After their three-point win over Waterford in the Munster Hurling League last Sunday, joint managers Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor both stressed their unwillingness to fulfil tomorrow night’s fixture against Cork, pointing to the fact that they have 13 players on Fitzgibbon Cup duty today with various colleges and saying they would not “torture” their players with three games in four days.
It is understood that Cork pointed to a similar number of colleges players on their squad when opposing a change of schedule.
The Munster Council discussed the matter yesterday afternoon, with Cork, Clare, and Limerick — who have a chance of making the final, depending on results — and upheld the fixture.
Accordingly, Cork versus Clare throws in at 7.30pm in Sixmilebridge tomorrow evening, and the final of the league, between Cork and Clare or Limerick, will be played at 2pm on Sunday at a venue to be confirmed when the finalists are known.
The display of forward John Conlon was key to Clare’s victory last Sunday. He was removed in the first half with a cut hand, but returned in the final quarter and, with late points, he showed less-experienced teammates the way.
He was keen to stress the value, however, of the early-season competition to the team, as a whole.
“The Munster Hurling League is all about finding new lads, especially this year, with the new management set-up.
“We’re trying to find our feet with each other. So far, it’s been positive. We were unlucky against Limerick the other night, but last Sunday was good and some lads stepped up and had good games. The panel is low at the moment with injuries and the Ballyea lads away, but it’s good to be going towards the right way, with the league starting in a few weeks.”
Conlon said that because management were rotating players “everyone feels like they’re getting their share” of action: “They’ve been alternating the teams and trying to keep everyone fresh, as well, because of the Fitzgibbon and they’re trying to keep everyone fresh for the league coming up. It’s good for everyone to get game-time; everyone on the panel feels like they’re getting their share of game time and there’s good bite in trainings. We’re all settling in with the new management team and it’s positive so far.”
A high-scoring and open game, such as last Sunday’s, played in heavy conditions, helps players, he added.
“The ball isn’t coming up easily and there’s a lot more tussles, it was a very good game to watch and Waterford are experimenting as well. They’re obviously wanting to impress Derek [McGrath] and get on their panel. Same with our lads. Conor O’Donnell had a great game. Aaron Cunningham, they’re all flying inside and it’s just about keeping it going for the rest of the year. For the league, we’d like to come out on top in that again.” Conlon agreed Clare are trying “another avenue” and playing a more direct game.
“Yeah, even in training that’s just the main thing, we’re trying to get a bit more direct. We have ball winners there. Maybe it was just we were playing one style before and now we’re trying to go down another avenue. Maybe we’re overplaying it at times, we’re still trying to play our passing style, at times, trying to utilise the ball well and it’s all about trying to get the ball over the bar or into the danger zone.”