Banner rolls on to thoughts of Munster

KILMALEY, Clare’s newly crowned SHC champions, are aiming to continue the county’s incredible record in the Munster club campaign.

Since 1995, Sixmilebridge, Clarecastle, Wolfe Tones and St Josephs Doora Barefield have won the provincial title on six occasions.

Now the new kingpins are bidding to join that illustrious list and have the ideal man at the helm to direct their ambitions.

Kilmaley coach Ciaran O'Neill, an All-Ireland winner with St Joseph's, knows exactly what is required to keep Kilmaley's momentum going beyond the borders of the Banner.

A meeting with Waterford champions Mount Sion on November 7 makes the job easier.

"I've no doubt they'll be back down to earth tonight. This hasn't been won for 19 years, and it has to be borne in mind, but this is what the club championship is all about, representing your club, your county, at the highest level.

"Mount Sion are a huge club, but we're coming into conditions now that are different. It'll be a battle and there is no love lost between any Waterford and Clare team. Mount Sion will obviously be the favourites, especially after coming out of a tough one with Ahane with a last-minute goal.

"No doubt they will have had someone watching our game, and they'll probably feel confident enough, but we'll go down there, throw caution to the wind and have a cut at it.

"There's a lot of character in this team, and when you've got the likes of Colin Lynch with you, you're in good shape.

"He's like Ken McGrath of Mount Sion a class player. These are two of the best hurlers in Ireland. You can only do your best, but I can't wait."

Lynch, team captain, and a Clare stalwart for many years, is also looking forward to that challenge.

But not just yet.

"We'll put that on hold for a few days, celebrate this one first, then get round to it. We just wanted this so badly, that's what brought us through in the end and it was an unbelievable feeling at the final whistle, seeing what it meant to the people of Kilmaley.

"The last two years we'd failed to deliver and felt we'd left one or two after us. The bottom line is that you have to do it on the day, and we hadn't, but we still felt we had it in us, as good as anyone.

"We learned a lot last year. When we were beaten by Clarecastle in the quarter-final we made ourselves a promise that we'd come back and do ourselves justice. We need a few days now to take this in, before we start to think about the Munster club championship. Clare teams have a good record, especially in recent years, and that's the challenge before us now, to get ourselves ready to maintain that challenge.

"Mount Sion are a big team with lots of quality players, and we'll really be up against it. But we showed the character to win this one, and that's one thing this team does not lack, character."

Another veteran who soldiered with Lynch for club and county was Conor Clancy. Sunday's title ranked alongside the great Clare days in Croke Park.

"To do it, in those circumstances, in probably one of my last years with the club, is a great honour. All year we've been digging out the results in the last five minutes, we've put in a savage amount of work and training.

"To do it with your club means everything. Our minors won the county 'A' this year for the first time in 31 years, now we've won the senior for the first time in 19 years. So it's a fantastic year for the club."

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