Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald was admittedly 'shocked' at the early season fitness levels which helped his side see out a narrow win over Kilkenny in yesterday's Allianz Hurling League opener.
The Banner men, who holidayed together in Mexico last month, came into the game on the back of a 14-point Waterford Crystal Cup final defeat to Tipperary, while Fitzgerald insisted beforehand that they were 'miles behind' other counties in terms of their training.
But despite losing their grip on a five-point lead and falling 0-17 to 1-13 behind in the second half, Clare finished the stronger at Cusack Park to post a 1-16 to 0-18 victory over the Cats.
"I am shocked. I didn't think they would have that much in the tank. Genuinely I didn't, because the trimming we got inside in the Waterford Crystal was a big one," said Fitzgerald afterwards.
"Maybe that hurt them...maybe that trimming mightn't have done them any harm. It hurt them a small little bit to get beaten like that.
"They showed great courage out there today. These conditions wouldn't be our ideal conditions. They worked hard. We have to be realistic though, Kilkenny did create chances. Probably we missed one or two ourselves that we could have taken as well.
"It was nice to see that bit of fight. I know we are behind, I am certain of that. I think they will be patchy because it is going to be hard for them to get up that high every single day.
"If they do they won't have much in the tank come the middle of the year. That is my honest opinion. To get that kind of a performance out of them took a lot over the last week or so."
Colin Ryan starred with a scoring haul of 1-9 but former goalkeeper Fitzgerald singled out the county's current net minder Donal Tuohy, who combined with Ryan to stop a Henry Shefflin penalty on the line and he also thwarted Jonjo Farrell at close range.
"Donal Tuohy in goals, had to wait two years for a chance, he made an unbelievable save. I do know Kilkenny had two or three opportunities of goals. Tuohy made a great save, we stopped the penalty. They had another wide open chance in the first half.
“It is a win, but I’m not reading much into it. Kilkenny have practically only half a team out there today. They have a lot of young fellas in."
As well as downplaying Clare's opening league win, Fitzgerald is predicting a difficult outing for his charges next Sunday when they travel to Parnell Park to take on a Dublin team that lost by 13 points to Galway.
"If you get a bad beating, there is only one way you are going to respond, you are going to come out and throw the kitchen sink at us.
"Going up to Parnell Park it will be wicked tight. They got a beating today so they will be like men possessed the next day.
"My job is to get the lads, who are after giving everything today, to get up to that high pitch again the next day to meet what we are going to meet."