They’ve only ever won eight national senior hurling titles but legendary attacker Jamesie O’Connor believes Clare still won’t celebrate a ninth if they beat Limerick.
Sunday’s Munster SHC quarter-final tie will double up as the Allianz League decider so along with a golden ticket to face Tipperary on Sunday week, there’ll be national silverware at stake.
Given the tiny window to prepare for facing the reigning All-Ireland champions, two-time MacCarthy Cup winner O’Connor reckons League celebrations won’t be accommodated.
“If you win then you’ll have the All-Ireland champions coming up, seven days later,” said O’Connor.
“It will be all about recovery and reflect back on the win next January and February if you want to.
“Look, it’s a lovely medal to have, it’s a medal I don’t have and it’s probably a regret of ours that we didn’t put more into the League and then have a medal when we were done.
“But no, I don’t think there will be any celebrations because there is a massive challenge to come against Tipp seven days later for whoever wins.”
O’Connor’s former Clare colleague Davy Fitzgerald, the current Wexford manager, was critical of the decision to make Sunday’s Championship opener also the League decider.
Instead of running off the quarter and semi-finals, the GAA went straight to the final and paired off the two teams that topped their groups against each other.
Fitzgerald claimed you can’t ‘just pick two teams and throw them into a League final’ though O’Connor isn’t bothered.
“They were obviously faced with a limited timeframe to run off the inter-county season,” noted O’Connor.
“They could have let the League go completely by the wayside but they didn’t. They decided to double up on it. In another year it could have been Wexford and Kilkenny in the final, it could have been Tipperary and Galway, but Clare and Limerick topped their groups and for me I certainly have no problem with it.
“I think it’s good that the League final is going to be played but let’s not kid ourselves either, I don’t think any of the Limerick or Clare players are going to be looking at this as the League final. This is the first round of the Munster championship, there’s a huge prize there with Tipperary to come a week later in the semi-final. The fact that it’s also the League final is just bonus territory if you win it.”
O’Connor does have sympathy for another of his former Clare colleagues though, Clare manager Brian Lohan who is in his first season in charge.
“It’s been incredibly difficult but it’s been incredibly difficult for Liam Cahill, who isn’t living in Waterford, it’s been incredibly difficult for Shane O’Neill, who isn’t living in Galway, at least Brian is in the county,” said O’Connor.
- Sky will open its coverage to more GAA fans by airing ALL of its 14 GAA Championship fixtures live on Sky Sports Mix, a channel more widely available to all Sky customers and on other TV platforms. It means that even those that do not have a Sky Sports subscription will be able to watch the games. Sky Sports Mix is available in approximately 900,000 homes in Ireland on Sky Channel 416 and Virgin Media channel 409.