Clare have 13 players involved in Fitzgibbon Cup action tomorrow and say they’re “not going to torture our players”.
“We’ll see,” said Clare co-manager Donal Moloney after yesterday’s Munster SHL win over Waterford, when asked about Wednesday’s game.
“We’ve stated from the start we can’t play on Wednesday night. We have a whole lot of Fitzgibbon players and we can’t ask them to play three senior games in one week in the Fitzgibbon and then a game against Cork.
“We’re not doing it. We may be before Central (Council) but that’s where we’re at right now. We can’t ask some players to play five games in 10 days. If the fixture isn’t changed we’ll have to fight it. We’re not going to torture our players.”
Would they give a walkover? “Maybe,” said Moloney.
Gerry O’Connor, the other co-manager, added: “The reality for us is we are looking at a panel of 27 players, and we’ve used them as best we can in the last three games.
“As Donal has said, if 13 of those guys are playing Fitzgibbon, which they will be, a full-blooded Fitzgibbon game on Tuesday, it’d be very difficult for us to field a meaningful team on Wednesday night.”
This exchange followed an entertaining game in Fraher Field, Dungarvan, with Clare taking the honours in a high-scoring game.
“It’s a heartening win,” said Moloney. “Players had to find out about themselves. I recognise Waterford were far from full strength but we were really glad the way the players battled on.”
Clare were 0-5 to 0-2 up after eight minutes thanks to Shane Golden and Ben O’Gorman dominating midfield.
The home side had settled by the 14th minute, when Peter Hogan’s ground shot billowed the net to make it 1-4 to 0-6 for Waterford. Hogan struck again seven minutes later, flicking home a clever goal — 2-5 to 0-7.
Clare responded with a Cathal Malone goal from close range on 30 minutes, and two minutes later Ben O’Gorman, ghosting in from deep, had Clare’s second goal with a fine strike. A Bobby Duggan free had Clare 2-11 to 2-7 ahead at the half.
Clare had three points to Waterford’s one on the resumption, a Jason McCarthy effort the pick of them, and were 2-14 to 2-8 ahead on 45 minutes.
The game sagged a little then in intensity, with Waterford whittling away at the Clare lead with Nolan frees. When Clare’s Brendan Bugler got a second yellow with quarter of an hour left, there were just two points in it, 2-14 to 2-12, but Waterford couldn’t make the extra man pay.
A late run of points made it safe for the visitors, though Waterford sub Billy O’Keeffe’s injury-time goal made them sweat for the win.
Waterford manager Derek McGrath wasn’t disappointed, saying players had made a case for inclusion in the panel for the league: “We’re very happy with it, as we were with all the Munster league games. The start of the second half we looked like we’d be overrun a bit, the way we were in the Limerick game having put up a good first half. It was nice to dig in and near the end of the game to bring it down the stretch, that was the aim at half-time.
“It’s probably the difficult thing, trying to trim it (the panel) to 33. Getting the dynamic right — what we’ve had for the last two years has been built on that unity of purpose. I don’t think there’s a massive difference between the guys we had here and the guys we didn’t have here today. I’m not getting carried away at the same time.”
McGrath added that Tadhg de Burca (back), Jamie Barron (hamstring), Darragh Fives (leg), and Philip Mahony (hip) are at various stages of rehab and availability, with most of them expected back playing in March.
B. Nolan (0-6, frees); P. Hogan (2-0); B. O’Keeffe (1-0); DJ Foran, E. Murphy (0-2); J. Fagan, S. Keating, S. Roche (0-1).
B. Duggan (0-4, frees), C. Malone, B. O’Gorman (1-1 each), J. Conlon (0-4); A. Cunningham (0-3); C. O’Donnell (0-2); P. Duggan, J. Shanahan, J. McCarthy, S. Golden (0-1 each).
I. O’Regan, C. Chester, S. McNulty, C. Lyons, D. Lyons, MJ Sutton, S. Keating, K. Fitzgerald, E. Madigan, M. O’Neill, DJ Foran, B. Nolan, P. Hogan, J. Fagan, E. Murphy.
C. Dunford for McNulty, T. Ryan for Fagan (both HT); S. Roche and B. O’Keeffe for Hogan and Foran (both 47); A. Molumby for Roche (inj, 59).
P. Kelly, S McNamara, C. Dillon, S. O’Halloran, J. McCarthy, C. Cleary, B. Bugler, S. Golden, B. O’Gorman, J. Conlon, C. Malone, P. Duggan, C. O’Donnell, B. Duggan, A. Cunningham.
D. Reidy for Conlon (blood, 5-9); D. Reidy for Conlon (18); J. Conlon for Malone (50); C. Galvin for O’Gorman (55); J. Shanahan for P. Duggan (66).
J. Larkin (Cork).