Waterford v Clare
@ Fraher Field, Dungarvan
THE draw for the All-Ireland Qualifiers was made on RTÉ Radio on Monday morning, something that will certainly concentrate Clare football minds ahead of Saturday’s Munster championship replay.
Clare will be playing Carlow or Meath if they lose – it will be Carlow. But if they win there’s the carrot of a home game against 36 times All-Ireland champions Kerry.
You know where they’d rather be, but to get there they face a huge task against the backdrop of what was a dreadful performance last Saturday.
As manager Colm Collins admitted afterwards, Clare moved the ball much too slowly, the consequence of which was that there was a distinct lack of ideas and penetration in the forward division.
That has to change on Saturday, if Clare are to over-turn Waterford and succeed where the teams of 2007 (under Páidí Ó Sé) and 2010 (under Michéal McDermott) failed in Dungarvan.
Maybe Clare went into last Saturday’s contest with an inflated opinion of their worth – thanks to promotion to Division 3 – and overconfident in their ability to turn Waterford over as easily as they did in the National League.
If so it was misguided and ignorant of the championship being a great leveller.
Ahead of the replay, only a huge improvement will get them over the line. All because, you can rest assured that Waterford won’t be as bad as they were the last day when it took them the guts of 50 minutes to get going.
Their marquee forward Paul Whyte won’t be as profligate from frees, while the enthusiasm and confidence the Deise will take from what happened when they ran straight at Clare means that they’ll have their gameplan sorted from the opening minutes.
As for Clare, the big thing is that they can’t be as bad as they were the last day, when there seemed to be a total lack of invention in the forwards. The backs did well for most of the game before they were exposed a bit at the end.
The challenge will be for the backs to reproduce and the forwards to step up, while if Gary Brennan is being double-teamed for kick-outs, an alternative strategy for gaining possession has to be found.
All this and more, when Clare seek victory without having the Collins brothers aiding their cause. But as Podge and Sean’s father, team boss Colm said, that’s why there’s a panel of 32. The strength of the panel will be shown on Saturday.