Clare’s Jason McCarthy expects tonight’s Banner crowd “will be going mad” for the county’s U21 clash with All-Ireland champions Limerick in Cusack Park.
“The crowd is going to come out, if the sun is shining at all, the crowd will have saffron and blues flags and they will be going mad. That’s what we really want. And then it will be building up to the senior a couple of weeks later.
“With the U21 you know all your eggs are in the one basket. It’s straight knockout. Last year we didn’t do ourselves justice losing by 13 points to Limerick.
“This year a new bunch of lads is in. We are missing a lot from last year, but this new group, they have a lot of experience in underage competitions and stuff they have won themselves.
“Hopefully it will lead onto a great summer. It would be wonderful if we could win. We know we have to take it game by game and see how things go but definitely the big one to start it all off is against Limerick.”
It’s also a fair taster for the upcoming Munster championship: “Looking at it, that only a couple of teams can come out of it, it’s a bit scary but it just puts a bit of pressure on you.
“People play better when there is pressure on you. Lads just want to play matches and now they have a chance to play five matches in six weeks. Everyone is looking forward to it, even the supporters. It is going to be a festival of hurling.
“It is something to really look forward to now, it could be unreal for the summer.
“It was some feeling to come on in Thurles against Limerick and against Cork (last year).
"Unfortunately we didn’t win the Munster final but it was still a great experience to get a run out and play against top teams and top players.” Clare started the league well, even if they eventually exited after that famous shoot-out against Limerick.
“A couple of the results later on in the league didn’t go well,” says McCarthy.
“But we definitely performed well in a lot of the games, and for long periods in games. We were happy with how the league went.
“A lot of stuff was tried, a lot of lads got game-time. It was a good use of the league. It sets us up nice for the Munster championship.
“It was unusual (the shoot-out), there was a lot of controversy. We were raring for another five or 10 minutes as the lights were coming down.
“It’s a tough way to go out of a competition if you lose like that but it’s a fan pleaser if you see a skill like that being demonstrated in the middle of the field with no back up. It’s just do the skill and away you go.”
If McCarthy looks familiar, it’s probably because of his stint a couple of years ago on Ireland’s Fittest Family...
“You would always have young lads coming up on the street and you would be wondering, and then you see them smiling and then you just know. They come up to mam and the brothers as well. You could be doing a Cúl camp, and they would be over and they would be laughing and they know.”
Does the athleticism come from his mother, then?
“My mam would be a serious athlete,” says McCarthy. “She does 50m cycles, marathons, you name it, she has it done. Dad is an athlete in his own right, he used to play football when he was younger, but not much now. He would say we got it from him. But Mam would say we got it from her.”
J Power (Monaleen); B McPartland (Doon), J Adams (Ballybrown), J Flynn (Patrickswell); D Minehan (Ahane), K Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), T Grimes (Na Piarsaigh); P O’Loughlin (Kilmallock), M Mackey (Adare); B Ryan (South Liberties), B Murphy (Doon), C Boylan (Na Piarsaigh); D O’Connell (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), S Flanagan (Feohanagh), O O’Reilly (Kilmallock).
A O’Brien (Ahane), P Ahern (Killeedy), A Barrett (Kilmallock), J Casey (Murroe-Boher), M Houlihan (Kilmallock), E Mulcahy (Mungret), M O’Dwyer (Monaleen), W O’Meara (Askeaton), B Timmins (Murroe-Boher).
K Nugent (O’Callaghans Mills); C O’Halloran (Eire Og), R Hayes (Crusheen), B Higgins |(Kilmaley); D Ryan (Cratloe), J McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona), P McNamara (Kilmaley); M Corry (Clooney-Quin), K Galvin (Clonlara); A McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona), G Cooney (O’Callaghans Mills), S Conway (Feakle); J Carmody (Kilmaley), C Guilfoyle (Newmarket), B Connors (Cratloe).
E Foudy (Inagh-Kilnamona), L O’Connor (Newmarket), C Lynch (Sixmilebridge), C Darcy (Kilmaley), S O’Loughlin (Kilmaley), P O’Loughlin (Clonlara), M O’Shea (Smith O’Briens), D Cullinan (Inagh-Kilnamona), I Murray (Bodyke)
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