Unlike both of their championship encounters against Kerry last year, the Clare footballers must at least “do themselves justice” in Sunday’s Munster semi-final.
For the third time in just over a year, Clare and Kerry lock horns, with the Kingdom having enjoyed 12 and 11-point victories in the Munster semi and All-Ireland quarter-final in 2016.
What frustrated the Clare players on both occasions, according to selector David O’Brien, was not the double-digit losing margins, rather their failure to perform.
Colm Cooper and Stephen O’Brien raised a green flag apiece within the opening six minutes of last year’s Munster semi-final, while an unanswered 1-4 midway through the first-half of the All-Ireland quarter-final meant both games were effectively done and dusted by the interval.
“That we didn’t do ourselves justice was the overriding feeling after the two games,” said O’Brien. “We felt in both games that we didn’t show the kind of progress we had in other games. The Munster semi-final was over after six minutes. In Croke Park, we went back into our shell after they got their first goal 20 minutes in. Kerry won both games at their ease.”
What management are hoping for this weekend is a display similar to the Munster semi-final meeting from 2014 where they ran Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s charges to four-points, 1-17 to 1-13. From that team, 10 started against Limerick last time out.
“The lads that were involved will look at it as one of their better Munster championship performances. Kerry came off the field and knew they had been in a game. That wasn’t the case last year.
“Clare played with a real freedom in 2014. Moral victories don’t count for anything but that day did show Clare are capable of playing good football and we’ve progressed on from there in most games in the ensuing years, bar the two Kerry games last year.”
O’Brien insists those heavy beatings in 2016 have not influenced their approach to Sunday’s fixture in Ennis. There’ll be no defensive screen put up.
“We are not built that way. We are more of an attacking team. It might sound naive but it has worked for us. If we went out to try and contain Kerry, we mightn’t be very good at it and it would absolutely go against all the progress we have made in previous years in terms of trying to play football. You might stay in it for 50 minutes, but if you’re not interested in winning a game, you are not going to win it.”
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