Donal Óg Cusack openly admits to relishing his first taste of inter-county management as inspired by the ambition and dedication of the Clare panel, he can’t get enough of these big games.

“We’re all hurling people and what else would you want to be doing of a Sunday evening when you have another national final next Sunday. I don’t have anything better to be doing anyway, maybe ye do but I’m happy to be coming back next Sunday.

“I love it, I love being involved with the lads because they are so committed. I know that you can say that about every inter-county team but the effort and commitment that these lads put in is special because they want to win for their county and for themselves. And I love that and I love being involved in it.”

What also drives the two-time All Star is the inexorable evolution of the game in terms of tactical innovation and formation fluidity.

“There’s a lot of effort that goes in and there are very intelligent players out there that understand what is happening. The game evolves and Kilkenny for me were the first team I saw that brought half-forwards back into their defence and playing extremely deep.

“For some reason the general hurling population never picked up on that. Now maybe that Kilkenny were so good and had such good forwards at the time that people’s minds were drawn away from that fact but definitely as a player who played against them, they were probably the first team that employed that sort of depth to defence.

“And the game keeps evolving. It’s like every sport, no sport stays the same and shouldn’t stay the same and hurlers are no different to anybody else. They want to come up with new ideas and new ways of doing things and try and be better and long may that continue that the game keeps evolving.

So how will the replay evolve?

“Every game has got its own story, its own players and actors on the stage with different characteristics and from all the games that you’ve seen, I bet you that very few replays take on the same guise as the original game and this one will probably be no different.”

However, certain things don’t change, namely the steely determination of Conor McGrath and Maurice Shanahan to arrow over crucial equalising frees at crucial times.

“I love it, I love being involved with the lads because they are so committed. I know that you can say that about every inter-county team but the effort and commitment that these lads put in is special because they want to win for their county and for themselves. And I love that and I love being involved in it.”

“They’re special things to do and I know every since I was a kid, people would always talk about the difference between going for a winning score versus going for the score to equalise and in general the feeling would be that trying to equalise is a lot more pressurised free to be taking.

“So you have to stand back and respect those guys that they had nerves of steel and ice running through their veins to be able to do that on a big day in Thurles with the wind blowing and the crowd on their case. It’s the great thing about hurling that as an organisation and as a sport, that we can produce great men like that.”

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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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