Daly puts fun in the sun to one side as Clare go for glory

IN midweek they enjoyed the sunshine, and one another’s company, in the Algarve.

But friendships forged on foreign training camps will be quickly forgotten when Tipperary and Clare clash in Semple Stadium tomorrow afternoon in the first of the three games to decide the finalists in the Allianz NHL.

The emphasis for respective managers Anthony Daly and Ken Hogan is to build on progress achieved over the course of the opening five rounds, with more pressure on Tipperary to improve consistency on the basis that they will be in championship action with Limerick on May 15.

Clare have the added interest that they will be meeting the winners of that game three weeks later.

In their corresponding league game a year ago, Clare triumphed by five points in Ennis. In the next round, Tipp beat Galway and Clare lost in dramatic fashion to Limerick and the third round games decided the eventual placings. Clare looked on course to qualify after beating Cork but a draw between Tipperary and Waterford edged out The Banner men.

Things got worse for Clare in the championship when they were crushed by Waterford.

"We'd be very keen to qualify this year, we'd have five weeks between the final and our Munster semi-final,'' says Anthony Daly.

"It would be in our interest to qualify and we'll be going all out to win every game not that we weren't last year. We should still have beaten Limerick on the day, but they got two late goals. People think that we 'threw it.' It wasn't a help that we didn't get to the final. In fact it proved to be a hindrance because Waterford played so badly in the league final that our fellows got sucked in.

"This year we'd definitely be hoping to get there! After tomorrow, we face two very tough games, with the next one against the All-Ireland champions. It won't be easy, but that's the standard. It's the same for everybody.''

After losing at home to Galway in the third round, Clare achieved a dramatic transformation in their next game, outplaying Kilkenny in Nowlan Park. And, they followed that with an impressive win over Waterford in Fraher Field.

Daly says he will be 'hoping for more of the same.'

But he is concerned to be missing Tony Griffin "obviously he will be a huge loss'' and that a few of the players picked up 'niggly' injuries during the week. Additionally, midfielder Brian O'Connell was involved in a county U21 hurling championship game on Friday night. But, he is still optimistic that they will be able to put out their strongest team.

"We met the Tipp lads on Wednesday night and we were saying that if we lose on Sunday we'll blame the Algarve,'' joked Daly.

"One of us has to lose. I suppose someone will use it as an excuse if they do.''

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