Clare goalkeeper Joe Hayes has lauded the contribution of coach Mick Bohan in reviving certain lost qualities within the county’s football set-up.
Manager Colm Collins, at the helm since 2014, was forced to put a new backroom team in place last winter following the departure of Ephie Fitzgerald, bringing in Clontarf native Bohan and David O’Brien.
Bohan, a nephew of former Clare hurling boss Fr Harry Bohan, served as head coach of the Dublin footballers under Jim Gavin in recent years before stepping away from the role at the end of the 2014 season.
O’Brien, meanwhile, was manager of the county’s ladies football team that annexed the All-Ireland intermediate title in 2009. The fresh approaches tabled by both played a significant role, according to goalkeeper Hayes, in Clare’s promotion to Division 2 of the Allianz FL last month.
“Go back to Colm’s first year in 2014, he instilled belief into us and a really proper work-ethic which maybe wasn’t there before that. We got promoted out of Division 4 and maybe we lost track of that last year,” reflected Hayes.
“There were a couple of games last year where it was tight coming up to the end and when you are really expected to work hard and force yourself over the line .... maybe, we weren’t doing that. This year, the tightest game was the league final and the way we kept battling to the end was really encouraging. Anyone looking at the scoreboard with 70 minutes gone (and Clare three points down against Kildare) wouldn’t have given us much of a chance. We kept battling away and that is what we said we were going to do this year no matter what happens.”
How much of this shift in attitude can be attributed to the new faces in the camp? “Mick might be a Dub, but his father was born in Clare, he has family in Clare and he spends a good bit of time in Lahinch during the weekends so there would be a lot of Clare in his blood. He has seen what it takes at the highest level to be successful and he has shown us a bit of that. Every session is different, he just continues to seek improvement. He demands it of us. He pushes us to the brink every night. David wouldn’t say much, but when he does talk, he makes unbelievable sense. He is very accurate in what he says.”
Hayes, a member of the Garda Emergency Response Unit, has been part of Clare panel since 2005. He’s faced the Treaty County on four occasions in the championship and while the two most recent meetings, 2013 and 2015, ended with Clare wins, he doesn’t expect past clashes, or, indeed, their Division 3 success, to have any relevance on Sunday.
“We bounced into training the first night back after the league. It is very easy to look forward when you have a win like that under your belt, but league and championship are completely different. Whichever team fights hardest and fights longest on Sunday will come out on top.”
Meanwhile, an eligibility controversy has robbed Limerick of midfielder Tom Lee for Sunday’s game. Lee, who featured in five of Limerick’s seven Division 3 league outings this spring, transferred from Ballylanders back to his native Headford at the end of April and has since lined out for the club in the Galway IFC.
Lee then sought a transfer back to Ballylanders to ensure he was eligible to tog this weekend for John Brudair’s side. This request was blocked at County Board level as it was argued the midfielder no longer holds any direct claim to Ballylanders given he is not living in the area. With Gearóid Hegarty committing to TJ Ryan’s hurling set-up, the team are without their first-choice midfield pairing.
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