A tough away tie on an artificial surface is the reality facing Clare this weekend when they take on Cork AUL in the last 16 of the Oscar Traynor Trophy.

But having trained and played almost exclusively on astro turf pitches in the last two months, Clare should be well prepared come Sunday.

That run has included encouraging performances against crack Limerick outfits, Pike Rovers and Carew Park.

That said, manager Liam Murphy (right) is remaining cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

“We are going to be the underdogs. It is an away fixture away to Cork on a surface that they are used to. We’re up against it straight away but we’ve done everything we could have done. We’ve been keeping the players ticking over.”

Murphy is unsure though as to what extent the surface will favour the home side

He said, “I’m sure its not suiting them either. I’ve been down to watch them and I know they’ve played all their friendlies on astro turf on that particular astro we’re playing on. They are going to be that bit more familiar with it. They are used to that surface but that doesn’t mean to say we’re not good astro turf players ourselves. But it is a totally different ball game.”

“Every game we’ve played has been on astro turf. That’s been the one plus. Even training has been on astro turf. It would probably be even stranger for us if the game was on grass at this stage!”, he added.

The fact that club soccer in Clare has ground to a halt since November has Murphy worried over his player’s match sharpness.

Clare qualified for the knockout stages courtesy of five goal away demolition of Roscommon.

Murphy’s men go into Sunday’s game minus the suspended midfielder Eoin O’Brien (Newmarket Celtic) while a slight injury doubt hangs over striker Daithi O’Connell (Newmarket Celtic).

The Shannon man is expected to be fit but if not, the recently called up Stephen Hickey (Ennis Town / Rock) is a more than able replacement.

Clare v Cork AUL 

at Douglas Hall, Sunday 2pm

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A native of Ennis, Ronan Judge completed his Journalism and Communications Diploma course at Griffith College. The Clare People is his first newspaper appointment. Contact Ronan on [email protected]

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