Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald admitted that Ger Loughnane’s scathing post-Leinster final criticism of Galway did his team no favours yesterday.
Loughnane described Galway as “gutless” after they slumped in the second half of their provincial decider against the Cats and also labelled Tribes boss Micheál Donoghue as Fr Trendy, a reference to the late Dermot Morgan’s former RTÉ character on The Live Mike.
When asked if Loughnane’s stinging remarks were fuel to Galway’s fire, Fitzgerald admitted: “We all know that. Listen, I’m not going to dwell on that.
“We’ll put it down to Galway and fair play to them, it was a great day for them.
“They can’t be a bad team having got to two All-Ireland finals and winning a Leinster. There’s not many teams around have done that. They’ll have a massive test the next day in Tipperary — that’s going to be a big one again.
“Unfortunately, we have to sit down and watch it.
“All in all, we’re on the right road back in Clare and I’m happy enough that we’ll get there.”
Fitzgerald was honest enough to admit that on the day, Galway were simply better.
He added: “They were the better team. I thought physically they dominated us from day one. Fair play to them.
“We’ve nothing but admiration for the way they played. How can you be a gutless team, a bad team, if you go to two All-Ireland finals and win a Leinster title? They had plenty of motivation to play well and they did.
“We’d be probably disappointed with the first half. We tried to run the ball into the net; we should have tried to get it over the bar. I wouldn’t be happy with the two goals we conceded. Definitely, the one after half-time to put us 10 down, that was an absolute killer.
“In saying that, extremely proud of my guys. Two games lost out of 17. What they’ve done over the last few years, what they have achieved, we haven’t achieved in Clare hurling for a long time and I’m extremely proud of them.”
Fitzgerald conceded that Galway’s swarm tactics were difficult to cope with, as the Tribesmen hunted in packs and targeted Clare’s main dangermen.
He said: “Galway were feckin’ unreal. They were fighting in packs, didn’t give you a chance on the ball. We knew they’d attack us in packs. We said the moment they did that we’d try to get the ball out wide but they were just all over you.
“They had a point to prove to certain people and they did it. They were well deserving of their victory. Hats off to Galway. Nothing but admiration for the way they played.
“Listen, they just wouldn’t allow us run at them, we couldn’t get a run at them.
“We got in once or twice in the first half, I think Tony (Kelly) was unlucky, they crowded him out fairly quickly.
“I’d have liked us to run more in numbers than we were running. We were running in ones, I’d like us to have been going in threes or fours, we didn’t get that opportunity today.
“But Galway didn’t get a whole pile — they got the two goal chances, the one after half-time (Joe Canning) was an opportunistic one. Other than that, Andy Fahy wasn’t troubled all day. On both sides, I wouldn’t say there was a whole pile of chances.”
Fitzgerald also admitted that he noticed a flatness about Clare’s display, adding: “I looked out and saw three or four of them and I just had that feeling we weren’t hopping off the ground, but if you saw them at training during the week, on Friday when I came back, I saw them and I thought they were buzzing. You’d never know what the story is.”
Conor McGrath and Colin Ryan contributed four points off the bench for Clare, but when asked if he should have started them, Fitzgerald admitted that he would have had tough decisions to make.
He explained: “I’m just wondering who you’d leave off if you wanted to leave off someone.
“Podge was still in good enough nick, he only played 25 minutes yesterday. Any of the rest of them, Aron Shanagher has been very good for us.
“You look at John Conlon, [he] has been one of our best forwards all year. Tony Kelly you wouldn’t leave off, if you can fit them in inside there someplace fair enough.
“In saying that, Conor McGrath was only back from injury and fair play to him.”
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