LET the good times roll. Let the league times roll.
Yes, the championship and summoning up a year to September is the goal of all hurling’s elite, but the National League is the bread and butter, where dreams start taking some sort of shape.
Especially for emerging teams. Established teams can afford to trundle through the Spring, safe in the knowledge that come the heat of summer that they’ll have the wherewithal to turn it on.
But emerging teams have no such luxury – they have to approach every game as it if it’s championship itself.
This is where Clare find themselves. Yes there’s always talk of shadow boxing in the league, but what’s more important – going out and hiding something from your opponent that you may not be able to find come summer, or just taking the game on its face value and hurling for all your worth for 70 minutes.
Clare should adopt the latter approach – be like they were back in the county’s greatest ever year when they seemed to come into every league game with the fervour of championship about them.
Making statements of intent.
Remember the day they sent Tipperary packing from Cusack Park in the Spring of ’95 – this is the kind of stuff that Clare will be hoping to produce when Waterford, Galway and Kilkenny come to Cusack Park over the next while.
The intensity. The hurling. The belief. All to the backdrop of large crowds that in turn would elevate the importance of the occasions and the league itself. It’s not about winning the league, even though it would be a huge thing, but putting a marker down that championships can be won.
That’s where Clare want to be – just remember back to Brendan Bugler comments after he won the county’s first All Star in six years last October. “There’s only one thing that I’m after for the coming year and that’s a Munster medal and an All-Ireland would be a bonus,” said the Whitegate star.
“We are thinking of bigger and better things, because you can’t beat winning with your team-mates, that’s what it’s all about for me,” added Bugler.
What it’s all about for Clare, while success in terms of National League, Munster championship or an All-Ireland would ensure that the lone All Star of 2012 would be multiplied.
Why not! Anthony Daly was Clare’s lone All Star in 1994, but the following year there were seven others up on the podium with him at the end of the year.
Clare were the team of the year and on their way to becoming team of the decade. Munster and All-Ireland champions, having reached the league final earlier in the year.
It’s what can happen when you shoot for the stars.
As the 2013 National Hurling League gets under starter orders Clare are star gazing – now to take aim and fire.

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Joe Ó Muircheartaigh graduated from University College Dublin in 1989 with a degree in history and politics. After completing a Diploma in Journalism at The College of Commerce, Rathmines in 1991, he embarked on a career in journalism. Joe spent four years with Clare FM from 1992 and was with The Clare Champion from 1996 to 2005. He has won two McNamee Awards for GAA journalism and has published two books. Contact Joe on [email protected]

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