How has the mood been in the camp since the loss to Waterford?
I suppose the answer to that is good and bad. When you lose a game that you had several chances to win, the immediate feeling is one of disappointment and that dressing room afterwards was very down. We knew we could have won the game and we seriously wanted to be in that Munster final. So that took a while to get over. I always found the hardest defeats to get over were the ones you maybe shouldn’t have lost. We don’t think we were second best against Waterford so it was tough to take. Besides, no player worth his salt likes losing. We lost, we not supposed to like it.
But the good we have to take from it was the fact that we really competed at the level we’re trying to get to. Waterford are now in their fourth Munster final in a row and we put them to the pin of their collar to get there. You saw what it meant to them. That’s actually paying us respect, how much it meant to them. They knew how close we ran them. So the good is our lads know we’re not far off it now and that it’s time to be winning the close matches and we know we’re good enough to do that.
You mentioned what it meant to Waterford to beat Clare and obviously there were Deise celebrations after the final whistle in Thurles that made national headlines. Did that take away from the performance?
Look it, that’s long over with. For me, it was over as soon as it happened. If others want to drag it out, well that’s the media for you, they need to make mountains out of molehills the odd time. (laughing) Not once has any reference been made of that in our dressingroom and it never will. I certainly won’t be talking about it again. We’ve been concentrating on hurling matters and nothing else since. We won’t be sidetracked by anything off the field, our job is to perform on it.
That brings us nicely to Saturday night. How much improvement is needed from Clare to beat Dublin?
We’ll need to up our game hugely to even live with them. It was the toughest draw we could have gotten and that’s no disrespect to anyone. We all know the Kilkenny match wasn’t their true form. They are a big game side who got to an All-Ireland semi-final last year and ran the then All-Ireland champions to a few points. They’re a serious team and they’ll be coming to Ennis to set the record straight that they’re still serious contenders for the All-Ireland. And of course we all know about their physicality. They are as strong a team as is in the country. So we’re up against it.
People might look to Waterford’s loss to Tipperary last year and how you and Waterford managed to turn it around in two weeks to lift your game again and beat Galway. Is that the space Anthony Daly and Dublin are in now?
There might be comparisons. We know there has to be a kick in Dublin after their last match. Knowing Dalo, knowing a bit about bouncing back from a bad defeat, they will come to the Park and they will mean business from the word go. That’s probably what made the draw so difficult. If they had pushed Kilkenny and lost by a point or two it almost might have been better for whoever they met next, but instead they are now a wounded animal and they’re going to take that out on their next opponents and that’s us. So we know what to expect, a fired up Dublin, looking to put that Kilkenny match behind them.
You mentioned Dalo, will it be strange to be patrolling the sidelines of the Park in opposition to him?
To be honest once you’re in the zone of a match that stuff is never really in my head. Be it Brian Cody, Dalo, Michael Ryan or whoever, I’m only thinking about my team and how we can win the match. So on the day, it won’t affect me.
But we’re playing Dublin and they’re managed by Dalo and that’s something else. It will cross my mind before the match!
Look it, I know him, we hurled together and he was my captain with Clare and my manager for a few years as well. I’ve been in a few dressing rooms with Dalo, and I’m well aware of how good he is, his knowledge of hurling is unreal. So I know his quality. We know what to expect from any team that has Dalo involved. And that does make it tougher because I know how good he is with a hurling team. Of course we all look to Brian Cody because of his record, but I’d have Dalo up there as well, he does a great job with every team he’s involved in. He’s a serious hurling man. We might patrol the sidelines in opposite camps but we’ll shake hands afterand we’ll remain the best of friends.
Are you hoping for a full house in Cusack Park?
Of course I am. Home advantage is one of the few things we have going for us in this match. So we need as many supporters getting behind the team as possible. We all know how tough it is for families to be able to afford to go to these games and of course it’s on television, but being drawn in the Park has got to mean something for us and a big Clare crowd getting behind the team could be worth a point or two to us. So please God we’ll see the Banner supporters out in force.