Clare were made to sweat even more than was entirely necessary on Saturday but in the end, it was a case of ‘all’s well that end’s well’ for Davy Fitzgerald who was more than happy to emerge with a ten point victory in extra-time in a game that he also felt should have been done and dusted in normal time.
“I’m delighted with the win, we showed serious character there in extra-time. I thought the problem we had in normal time was that we tried to play out the game. We were five points up with a few minutes to go and we tried to play it out. You can’t do that because if a team get a point or two, there’s alway a chance they could finish with a goal. Like, it was into the 72nd minute when they got it, we were just trying to play it out and went too defensive.
“People might say that we are a defensive team but we’re not. That shows you what defensive play is about but we’re not like that, we’re normally attack minded because I’d like to think that we have more scores than most teams got this year so we set out to attack. I’m just disappointed that we went on the defensive in the last ten minutes and if you draw a team on you, you are in trouble.
“But we never looked in trouble in that whole game. I know they got the goal to draw but that was the only time it looked like it.”
So what exactly was said in the dressing room at the end of normal time to up the ante once more?
“I don’t have to say much to those guys. They are a tremendous bunch and I cannot say enough about them. To me, they have probably even overachieved this year on what we have done. I can’t believe the battles they have come out of this year for a very young team. Most of this team are 22 years or under so for them to come into these clashes and to deal what we dealt with today is great. When you think about it, Wexford scored the last few scores and that gave them serious momentum but what did the young fellas do inside there [dressing room]? They said ‘okay we are in a battle now and we need to go out and sort this out ourselves.’ They sorted it out themselves inside there, they knew what to do and I think we showed our class in extra-time.
“It’s great to have options now. I’ve Darach [Honan] to come back, Cathal [McInerney] has been waiting for his chance for a long time and he showed us what he can do. And I’m delighted that he did that, I want those challenges so I do and Aaron Cunningham didn’t do bad when he came in either. I’m telling you, there were different lads showing today and thanks be to God that we have got that problem. We have a bit of a recovery now, our Under 21’s are playing during the week so that will take a small bit of time out of us but I wish them the best of luck as we have an awful lot of lads on that and they are going down for a big game in Waterford.”
That Clare managed to hit 20 wides over the 90 minutes also didn’t concern the Clare boss.
“It’s the same story all year, we are hitting the wides but the type of game we play which is not a short ball game, it’s a varied running game is what we play. It’s long and short as you could see today, that’s what we have been doing all year. So we will create a lot of chances and I think as we progress and get more mature, we’ll start rectifying that but isn’t it fantastic to be able to have those opportunities.
“A lot of teams would kill to be in that position, about having that many wides. That means that with twenty something wides and 26 or 27 scores, we were nearly shooting 45 to 50 scoring chances and that tells it’s own story so it isn’t a bad thing and people have got to look at that.”
So with a first quarter-final in five years to come, what of Clare’s chances in the business end of the All-Ireland series?
“Listen, probably of the six teams that are left, we will be total outsiders but you know what, we like that. We are fighters in Clare so we are and I’d like to thank some of our great support down here today. I have to say that because some of our supporters were absolutely fantastic and they helped us get through that in the end.
“And that’s what need is for all of Clare getting behind us. We’ll keep going so we will. The progress that these young lads have made themselves is fantastic, the backing that we have got from the County Board and our sponsor and things like that, this doesn’t happen by accident. This happens by people working together and not knocking people. When you work together you can achieve and when you knock, you won’t achieve and none of us will get there.
“But I have to say that the support within is great and the genuine people that came to me since the Cork game, to me personally that means an awful lot. The people who came up and said ‘keep doing what you are doing, don’t change what you are doing and don’t mind the knockers coz they are in every county’ and it’s great, our genuine people are great.
“Listen, our display in the first 70 was average. We were okay, we were winning the game by five or six points throughout and I was happy enough with it. We didn’t play well but we were coping okay so we were. We were doing more than enough to win the game and we should have won the game in normal time but we didn’t.
“And fair play to Wexford, they are a battling team and are making progress but you have to take a lot of encouragement because our back was to the wall going into extra-time. We are going into a quarter-final now and we’ll be wrote off but we are going to fight guys, we are going to have a go so we will.
“And I’m delighted that Clare are hurling into the end of July, I’m absolutely thrilled as a Clare person myself so that’s another plus for us.”

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Eoin Brennan is the legendary sports hack who has been known to play around with the caman for his beloved Clarecastle. Eoin is currently PRO of Clarecastle GAA Club. Eoin's other love is spreading the gospel of Hurling and Football through his involvement in Contact Eoin on [email protected]

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