Like every other Clare supporter in Thurles on Sunday, I thought we had it won with Colin’s point but in a game like that, you can never write the other team off and there’s always going to be one final chance whether that is with 30 seconds or a minute left.

In games like that where it was all so tight, it just comes down to small moments, an inspirational catch from a back or a moment of skill from a forward. Big games are defined on split second moments like that and because there wasn’t a huge amount of open space or goal chances, every decision a player makes is magnified.

It’s also a good sign of both teams that when things get tough that they are able to claw back the deficit when the other team gets ahead.

I think to be fair to the lads, we finished very strong. We went three points down in the first half of extra-time so the lads did really well to come back and go ahead with time almost up. We probably missed one or two chances and I think if we had pulled two points ahead at that stage, Waterford wouldn’t have been able to come back.

But look, it was a great finish, it’s nice to have another game to look forward to and it will be good preparation for the championship.

With the benefit of hindsight, the game could have gone either way as we had to equalise in normal time to push it to extra-time so we could just as easily been going home with a one point loss. I don’t think that would have been deserved but in games like that where things are tight, small margins could have decided the game.

The mood in the dressing room was very positive afterwards as it was a real exciting game. From talking to supporters since the game, some described it as a bit dour and not open, free flowing hurling but you have to understand how intense the game was as it was played at a championship pace.

You could see it afterwards that the lads were in a real battle as they were wrecked but still really looking forward to another intense and exciting game next week.

The big thing for me is that the panel continues to be very healthy with the competition for places only increasing as the year has gone on. The guys that have come in are there on merit and are not just minding a jersey for someone else. These are the guys that are going very well at training and a lot of them have played a lot of county hurling at minor and Under 21 levels in the last few years at a very high level and have come in seamlessly to the senior set-up which is a great sign for them and also a great sign of the work that’s being done at underage.

In games like that where it was all so tight, it just comes down to small moments, an inspirational catch from a back or a moment of skill from a forward. Big games are defined on split second moments like that and because there wasn’t a huge amount of open space or goal chances, every decision a player makes is magnified.

So they’re there on merit and we have already seen how hard it is for the lads on the bench to break back into this team again. But that’s what you want as it’s a sign of a competitive squad that are pushing each other at training every night which reap the rewards of days like Sunday when things get tough.

Much like 2013, we will embrace the replay and hopefully be the better for another big game under our belts. People are kind of latching onto the perception that you don’t want to meet a team twice but for me, It really doesn’t matter. There is only a certain amount of teams in the hurling championship anyway, it’s a small championship so chances are you are going to be playing one team twice if not three times between league, replays and championship so it’s not a huge deal. It’s great preparation as the more games the better down in Thurles in front of 20 or 30 thousand people and it’s something for the lads to really look forward to.

Even though it’s Waterford, we have played them once now so I don’t think it matters whether we play them twice or ten times again this year. Teams are very well prepared now and they know an awful lot about everybody else and it’s no longer the case where you learn a lot about a team on the day of the game any more.

The tactics and match-ups are kind of known by everybody well in advance and it’s just a matter of who plays better on the day and it will be the same again next Sunday.

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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 www.gogaelic.ie. Contact Eoin on [email protected]

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