TO say the mood around the saffron and blue camp in Páirc Tailteann on Sunday afternoon was sombre was the understatement of the Clare football year so far — one that will hardly be surpassed, regardless of what happens from here out.
Clare were on the floor and speechless after a second half display in which they were on the receiving end of a drubbing by a rampant Meath side who served notice of the direction they’re going under Andy McEntee.
They drew the first day out in Roscommon when they coughed up 1-1 in injury time, but there was no acts of charity here as they ruthlessly plunged Clare into misery with an impressive display of shooting in the second half.
It all meant that members of the Clare press who had made the long journey to Navan were in for a long wait after the game — indeed, the management and team couldn’t have been blamed if they wanted to escape from Páirc Tailteann as quickly as possible, without putting words to what happened.
But finding the words is what manager Colm Collins did when he finally emerged and tried to explain what was arguably the most disappointing display during his watch as manager.
“I thought in the first half, even though the score was very close I thought there were a lot of things that we were doing wrong,” he began.
“It was a listless display, but I didn’t see that second half coming. That’s for sure.
“It seemed to be a lack of energy. At half-time we were saying this isn’t good, it was a poor display, let’s lift it. We didn’t. I thought that for a finish it was a bit farcical in that anything we did at all was going wrong. It was a bit like last year’s game, I did see things happening in the first half that I wasn’t happy with.
“These things happen. Everybody involved with it — I think it’s very important that we win together and we lose together. No player goes out to play poorly.
“Sometimes you turn in a really magical display and sometimes it’s a poor, listless display and you’re never as bad or as good as either. You’ve just got to cope with these things, park it and get on with it,” the manager added.
Getting on with it brings Clare back home to Cusack Park next Sunday to face a Tipperary team that will also be smarting from a defeat, after they threw away a six-point lead in the closing stages of their second round game against Roscommon.
“The thing about the National League is that you don’t have any time to feel sorry for yourself,” said Collins.
“We’ll have a look at what we did last week as we look forward to next Sunday.
“When you’re playing Division 2 football you’re learning curve is severe. You’ll be punished. You’ve just got to get up on the horse again and get ready for next week. It’s to get everything back together again and get going and prepare for next Sunday and give a much better performance.
“Every game in this league is seriously important. All you can do is look after each game as it comes and try and get the most you can out of each game. That’s all that you can do,” he added.
Above: Colm Collins
For match report, reaction, player interviews and player ratings see this week’s Clare People, out now