Clare joint-mananger Donal Moloney spoke to Eoin Brennan about the value in taking time to learn from a defeat and ensure that lessons are learned and weaknessess are addressed.
It’s less than an hour after Dublin’s seismic exit from the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and the reverberations have already been felt by the Clare Under 21 management as they prepare to take a recovery session after the weekend’s county senior hurling fixtures in Cusack Park.
The aura of infallibility surrounding the Dubs had been shattered by a near perfect display from Jimmy McGuinness’ Donegal, and for a Clare side preparing for their third successive All-Ireland Under 21 final, that dollop of reality couldn’t have come at a better time.
“That’s a classic example of what can happen.” outlined joint manager Donal Moloney in the main stand of Cusack Park.
“You see, it is helpful that our guys have been through it before and they will provide a level of leadership but they also recognise that you have to get your preparation absolutely right in order to be able to perform. At the end of the day, it’s another game, a big game admittedly but just another game and the same as any other day you go out.
“You’ve got to get your preparation, both mental and physical preparation absolutely spot on in order to be able to perform at the highest level and if you don’t, you’ll be turned over.”
Moloney and his backroom team have successfully avoided any such pitfalls these past few years, with a perfect record at Under 21 level perhaps mitigated by a heartbreaking extra-time defeat to Galway in the 2011 All-Ireland Minor Semi-Final.
“That hurt a lot at the time. People say ‘isn’t it a fierce disappointment that we didn’t win an All-Ireland in 2010 and 2011’. It has been a considerable driving force as well because the players have been mature enough to progress onwards and to put themselves in a position three years down the track to actually put it right.
“You’ve got to learn from those defeats and ensure that whatever happened and whatever the reasons were behind those defeats, that they are properly identified and rooted out so that you can give your best possible performance. Even with that though, there’s no guarantees that you are going to win all the time. You’ve got to respect the opposition, recognise that this time we are playing a team with a lot of quality players and who will feel that they have a 50-50 shot at this game.”
Wexford certainly won’t lack confidence alright, having already dumped the Clare senior hurlers from this year’s championship race, only nine months on from the Banner being crowned All-Ireland champions.
“Wexford have been working incredibly hard the past few years as well and they have talent, they have athletic guys that are really good hurlers and they showed that at senior level this year in what they displayed in Cusack Park and subsequently down in Wexford Park. And there were shades of that form again against Galway in the Under 21 semi-final so I think we will have a lot of respect for this Wexford outfit.
“It is a unique pairing and Wexford have been really, really impressive but any opposition at this point, with the exception of Antrim in the final last year, is going to provide a serious, serious test for us in the final.”
Going on the senior clash, perhaps as big a litmus test as the Munster Under 21 Semi-Final against Tipperary that went all the way to extra-time before Clare emerged victorious.
“That Tipperary game, we often reflect on it and use it quite a lot because that was a night when all the other qualities that you need to win had to be exhibited. They showed great courage that night and Wexford will be up alongside Tipperary in terms of opposition, that’s where we’d see them so all the resilience and the courage that was shown that night will be needed in Thurles.”