IT was a long walk, probably the longest Michéal McDermott has made in his many years involved with teams – the trek he had to make just after 8.30pm on Saturday night from the dressing room at the Caherdavin end of the field to underneath the Mackey Stand where the TV cameras awaited writes Joe O’Muircheartaigh.
At least en route he had time to gather his thoughts after the maelstrom of an evening when Clare seemed to be caught in the perfect storm whipped up by Kerry.
In the circumstances of a 19-point defeat, McDermott would have been forgiven had the dressing room door remained locked, but as always he obliged and tried to find some words.
Words of pain:
“All over the field we were in trouble from 15 minutes into the game. Kerry played really, really well and we just had no answer to their power, their pace and their football.
“All over the field they were hurting us. There was no area of the field we were winning. Players and management are all hurting tonight, because the performance just wasn’t there. It was one of those nights when Kerry played us off the field. We would have no answer in most areas of the field.”
Words in defence of Clare’s tactics:
“It was the exact same gameplan as we had for Cork, but it was the way Cork broke from midfield. Kerry were different. They were hitting long balls and it helped us get our half forward line back, but that sort of game takes an awful lot of energy out of the players, making it hard to get the ball back up the field and get the ball into the full-forward line. When we came out they just swarmed us and once we slowed it down at all, they got men behind the ball.”
Words of comfort:
“The one thing about the Clare players, they tried their heart out there. It wasn’t working for them, but you can’t fault the effort they’ve put in all over the year.
“They have been tremendous role models to deal with over the year – the sacrifices they made, the effort they made. It just didn’t happen for them. That’s what sport can be like. It can be very, very cool, but you have to give them great credit – number one for getting to the last 12 of the All-Ireland, number two if you look at the way the year panned out, we got to within a whisker of promotion again in the National League.
“It was brilliant to come in here in the Munster semi-final and beat Limerick in their own backyard. Look at what Limerick did to Kildare last week. We put in a fantastic performance that day, both in the first half and the character we showed to win it in the second half.
“Against Cork, outside of the three goals we played really good football that day. The scoreboard didn’t do us justice.”
Words in praise of Kerry:
“Their tackling is ferocious and they don’t give you an opportunity to pass the ball. That was what we learned tonight – you don’t see that in Division 4 and unless you’re playing the top teams, you don’t learn how to cope with it. Kerry gave us a lesson in that regard. They were brilliant and are now probably favourites for the All-Ireland.”
It will probably be some consolation if Kerry actually go on and win the All-Ireland.