The league final had heckling and hard hits, but it and tomorrow’s replay are still something of a phoney war before the real action gets underway on June 5...
I was watching Spurs and Chelsea at home on Monday night – don’t any of ye Arsenal crowd even think about getting the dig in – when Christian Eriksen was standing over a corner-kick.
Mother of Devine Lord, the abuse he got from the Chelsea crowd was something vicious. There was this baldy fella (he actually reminded me of myself a bit) and the vitriol was rolling off his tongue.
A lip-reader would have marked it X-rated for viewing. I’d say Eriksen was afraid to turn around in case he’d get a shot in the jaw from Dr Evil.
I was laughing away to myself when I saw Dan Shanahan’s comments the following day about the heckling his brother Maurice supposedly got from the Clare bench as he stood over that last free.
I don’t know what was said. I doubt if it was much. From what I gather it was more to do with where the free was taken from rather than where the foul was committed.
It certainly wasn’t anything as poisonous as the abuse directed at Eriksen by the Chelsea Headhunters over an auld harmless corner-kick.
I remember standing over the late free to put Clare ahead late in the 1995 All-Ireland final and Daithi Regan coming in my direction. ‘Ah, we’ll make an auld draw of it Dalo,’ said Daithi. ‘We’ll have another day out.’
‘We’ll see Daithi,’ I replied. ‘Sure I might as well hit it anyway.’
If that was heckling, myself and Regan never fell out about it anyway.
I was more concerned about Loughnane sprinting in my direction.
‘Jesus, are you sure about this,’ he said, fully aware that Seanie McMahon was standing behind me. ‘Certain,’ says I.
I just fancied that free. I was sure I’d score it. I fancied Maurice too last Sunday. I was on radio with Anthony Cunningham and he expressed slight surprise that Maurice was handed the responsibility. He wasn’t playing that well. Pat O’Connor had beaten him to a few balls. Pauric Mahoney was on the pitch. ‘I’m not so sure that will effect this fella,’ I said.
Maurice would remind you a bit of Dan. When you were marking Dan, you were never fully sure what he was going to do. You could have beaten him for three or four balls in a row and then Dan would turn around and nail a point that even DJ Carey would hardly score. Nerves never seemed to come into play with big Dan.
If Maurice had been on for the full match, the game wouldn’t have gone to extra time because he would have scored most of the frees that Waterford missed.
Clare’s wide tally did soar as the game progressed but what happens in the first 70 minutes is normally what decides your fate.
Whatever about Dan’s comments, or the truth in what he said, this rivalry is simmering nicely ahead of reaching boiling point on June 5th.
It’s going to be high-octane stuff again tomorrow so you can imagine how pumped both teams and managements will be by the June Bank Holiday.
Derek McGrath reminds me a bit of Jim Gavin at times. He sits down like he’s drinking tea from the best china at a tea-party while letting Dan scurry off searching for buns and afternoon cake. Derek even has the hat on like Jim.
When Podge Collins went down injured just before half-time in extra-time, he sat on the Waterford bench. Dr Padraig Quinn sat beside Podge for a few moments, before remaining there. When Derek took his place there shortly afterwards, he was laughing away with Doc Quinn as if he was saying ‘Wrong corner, Doc’.
Yet when Waterford got a few big scores in the second half of extra time, Derek shed the Jim Gavin persona and put on the John Mullane hat – he was punching the air. Davy Fitz was giving it loads too down the sideline when Clare rattled off a few scores. I’d say they’ll all be trying to contain themselves slightly again tomorrow because, if it’s another tight affair, the lid will come off the boiling pot on June 5th.
I don’t think much has changed from last week. If Clare had John Conlon and David McInerney available, even a fully tuned up Tony Kelly, this would be an easier game to call. Kelly’s radar was slightly off last week. The priority for Clare now though, is getting McInerney and Conlon back for June 5th because the reports are that their injuries are more serious than initially anticipated.
If Clare had everyone available, I think they would have more than Waterford but Clare probably also have more room for improvement, especially up front.
Three of the Clare forwards made only about seven plays between them while they were on the field. Tony Kelly did create a lot of chances. Podge worked hard but Clare can’t be expecting Conor McGrath to carry the same load he had on his back last weekend.
It was also noticeable how much some of the Clare forwards suffered in Conlon’s absence. Aaron Cunningham was quiet last week but you saw how effective he was working off breaking ball from Conlon against Kilkenny when he bagged two goals.
That goal threat wasn’t there last weekend. Aaron Shanagher had one great goal chance. Conor McGrath also had a good shot saved by Stephen O’Keeffe but Waterford had a couple of better goal chances. You always feel if they can put a goal alongside 17 or 18 points, Waterford are more than likely to win most games.
Waterford do not deviate from their gameplan. Clare will dig in for another war of attrition so it’s very difficult to say who will win. When Joanne Cantwell asked me on radio entering extra-time who I fancied, I told her I hadn’t a clue. I still don’t.
I wouldn’t be surprised if extra time was needed again.
It is that tight. Toss a coin. Heads Clare, tails Waterford.
Maybe Waterford now know that Maurice can handle the bit of heckling!
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