Clare v Carlow
@ Cusack Park, Ennis,
Sunday, 2pm

IT starts here!
The big push for promotion where no more slip ups can happen, or else it will be another year marked down to that ‘what might have been’ and ‘mí-ádh’ category that the paltry few Clare supporters out there have grown weary of this past generation or two.
It’s simple. Clare need to close out their campaign with two victories and then hope that if results don’t go their way elsewhere in the remaining games that their score difference will be enough to put them on the road to Croke Park.
Better get cracking on boosting the score difference then – something that must start with the visit of second from bottom of the table Carlow to Clare headquarters this coming Sunday afternoon.
It goes without saying, firstly it’s about claiming the two points and then hitting the long road for Antirm the following week, but when it comes down to it those two points and a greatly enhanced score difference is something that Clare could yet need.
After all, given the county’s travails in the league over the past few years – the ‘mí-ádh’ that has seen them lose out on promotion and a league final spot on the final day for three out of the last four years – it would be just like the Poor Clares to miss out on score difference.
What better way to head that eventuality off at the pass by racking up a big score here – Tipperary did it against Carlow the first day out, why not Clare here which would ensure that they’d just have to concentrate on doing the business in Antrim and not be concerned with score difference.
Of course, it would be great if Tipperary could continue with their unbeaten record and beat Letirim in Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday – then score difference could potentially be taken out of the equation.
Clare can’t rely on that though – Tipperary will get nothing easy in Carrick and Clare must be mentally prepared for it to go the other way. That means winning big here, because if Leitrim win, you’d have to think that they be able to give London a trimming in the final game – partly out of revenge for the beating they took against them in last year’s championship and also the fact the it would seal their return to Croke Park for the first time in 20 years.
As it stands Tipperary have an unassailable score difference and all they really need to do is win one of their last two games to advance the final and secure Division 3 status for 2015.
For Clare to be there with them the real campaign starts now. Make no mistake this will be a tricky assignment against Carlow. Their campaign was only going to go one way after they shipped a 2-24 to 1-8 defeat to Tipp in Dr Cullen Park.
And so it did. They followed it up with an 11-point defeat to Leitrim. They did beat Antrim by 3-15 to 2-17, but in their last two games they shipped a 14-point beating to Wicklow and then drew with London.
The expectation is that Clare will win big – and rightly so too, but despite winning three out of the last four games between the sides they’ve experienced their disappointments against the men from the Barrow.
The two defeats they’ve experienced against them in Division 4 have been when Clare’s discipline has let them down – in 2008 in Miltown when Clare finished the game with 12 players, then three years later up in Dr Cullen Park when they finished with 13.
On Sunday it’s all about keeping their heads and getting the job done. Winning by 10 to 12 points would really set them fair for the crunch final game against Antrim.

Verdict: Clare

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