Eoin Cleary admits the Clare footballers must improve their shot-selection if they are to shock Kerry in Saturday’s Munster SFC semi-final.
Colm Collins’ side failed to score after the 38th minute of their narrow victory over Waterford in their championship opener earlier this month.
That score — a Jamie Malone point — fired Clare into a 0-9 to 0-2 lead at Cusack Park on May 11, but the hosts were left hanging on grimly as their opponents hit six unanswered scores.
Cleary, the only Clare footballer who could be satisfied with his quarter-final showing, having kicked six points and set up Malone, doesn’t sugarcoat the post-mortem.
“Waterford were the better team, probably, but they didn’t win,” Cleary reflected.
“In the second-half, we were trying to force it and Waterford were getting a few scores, as a result. We were trying to stop their momentum by taking shots we shouldn’t have.
Against Kerry, you can’t take those shots. If the shot is on, you take it, and that’s it. But we were shooting outside our comfort zone and outside the shooting zone, and we weren’t getting the scores. We are going to have to learn from that.
Saturday’s game at Cusack Park is the fifth time in six years Kerry and Clare have clashed in a Munster semi-final. The Kingdom won the previous four by an average margin of 11 points, but the two games in Ennis, 2014 and 2017, were far closer than the two in Killarney, 2016 and 2018, with Kerry scoring four and six-point victories on the road, compared to 12 and 22-point thumpings at home.
“In 2014, we got out of Ennis, narrowly, against Waterford, and then gave Kerry a good rattle four weeks later. We are hoping for the same this time,” continued Cleary, who scored 0-16 in four league games this spring.
“We know there is a lot of work to do. Kerry are a formidable outfit, but we are looking forward to the challenge ahead. We are just going to have to put in a big effort.”
Clare’s David Tubridy, who was not used against Waterford, has returned to full fitness ahead of their second championship outing. Clare have not overcome Kerry in the summertime since their 1992 provincial final victory.