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Cunningham worry for senior final as Clare continue to blossom

Clare’s joint U21 manager Donal Moloney admitted the injury to senior panellist Aaron Cunningham could force him out of the All-Ireland SHC final.

"It looks like a pretty bad hamstring injury because he was in a lot of pain," he said. "We’ll do everything in our power for him but it looked like a bad, bad injury."

In a game of attrition Clare got their tactics spot-on and surprised Galway manager Johnny Kelly.

"At one time U21 would have been 15 against 15 but the more tactical it gets, the more difficult it is to break it down. Clare bring a huge amount of thought to their hurling. It didn’t go for us today."

In their Munster campaign Clare were able to hone those tactics while Galway had to sit and wait. Perhaps if Galway were to join their senior counterparts in Leinster?

"I’m not going to offer that as an excuse. We did what we came to do in the first half. We tried to contain them and create our own scores. We didn’t take the chances. If we had played a game in the championship and won we could have maybe ironed out those deficiencies, it might have given us an extra leg up in the game.

"But you can’t take away from Clare. They’re in serious condition and got stronger and stronger as we seemed to wilt. It would be a help if we had at least one game before we came in here to an All-Ireland semi-final."

Clare’s joint management team of Gerry O’Connor and Donal Moloney needed no such excuse.

"Yeah, we were concerned," said Donal

"We had probably set too much stall on coping with Galway’s giant half-forward line. Maybe we pulled our half-forward line back too much and didn’t leave ourselves enough targets up the field when we won the ball. We looked at that at half-time, straightened it out, left the half-forward line further forward and fortunately things began to open up."

Gerry: "We had a fair idea what was going to happen in the first half. We knew when we saw Padraig Brehony picked at corner-forward they were going to bring him out and play a three-man midfield, they were going to compact, make the middle third an absolute battleground, and they did that. It transpired exactly as we had anticipated; we reckoned the first half would be really low-scoring, an out-and-out dogfight, and that’s how it happened. Donal basically said to them at half-time, in the most positive way possible, that they needed to move up a gear and the second half performance was phenomenal. We started to get a bit of momentum eventually."

O’Connell’s well-taken goal (34th minute) setting Clare on their way, outscoring Galway 1-11 to 0-4 in the second half and setting up an All-Ireland meeting with Antrim.

"Fair play to them," said Donal. "It was all over every paper this morning that they shouldn’t come down and they shouldn’t be involved but fair bloody play to them. It’s fantastic to see it and we look forward to playing them in three weeks’ time."