Kerry may have 36 All-Ireland titles, while Clare have only beaten the Kingdom on two occasions in 110 years of championship meetings, but manager Colm Collins is looking forward to his side having a right go on Sunday.
BACK in 1991 the Kerry juggernaut rolled into Ennis for a Munster Championship tie against Clare – back then things were much like they are now where both Clare and Kerry are concerned.
Kerry were out of the All-Ireland winner’s enclosure for five years and very much in transition in the second year of Mickey ‘Ned’ O’Sullivan’s term of office; Clare were coming good under John Maughan in his first year in charge.
Kerry haven’t won an All-Ireland in five years; they’re in transition and Eamonn Fitzmaurice is in his second year in charge. Meanwhile, back in Clare, Colm Collins has enjoyed a very good first year at the helm, with his team coming good to win league promotion and have continued it into championship.
However, that’s where Collins hopes that the comparisons between 1991 and 2014 end. Clare were no hopers in 1991, but for 50 minutes of the contest put it up to the Kingdom, before running out of steam by the end to lose by 13 points.
Collins is looking for more than just putting it up to Kerry – he doesn’t mention winning, but is already really up for the contest which represents the litmus test as to how much progress has been made over the past eight months.
“Playing Kerry is where we wanted to be – we’re delighted to have them in Ennis, “ he says. “We’ll give one right rattle at it. This is the game that will tell us exactly where Clare football is this year.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Clare. This is the game we wanted to be playing, because the other option was to be heading up to Carlow to play in an All-Ireland Qualifier. You want to be playing the likes of Kerry.
“We had a good league and got the promotion that we targetted, while we had also targetted beating Waterford in the first round of the championship. We’ve ticked that box as well.
“I feel that this Clare team is improving all the time, but it is only when you measure yourself up against one of the old firm teams, that you know about where you stand. With this game we’ll see where exactly we stand and how much more we have to do,” he adds.
As Collins points out, Clare will be defending a proud home record in Clare this year, having gone unbeaten in all their games at Cusack Park this year – something that will be on the line on Sunday.
“We don’t want to lose that record,” he says, “so it’s about having one right rip at Kerry – that’s just it and that’s the way we have to be in this game.
“Kerry are missing a few, but vulnerable and Kerry don’t usually go in the same sentence. Anyone that Kerry put on the field on Sunday will be very capable, because that’s the way they are. There’s a great tradition down there and they will be very strong.
“But we’re going to have a right rattle off them. We feel we have some very good players, we have prepared very well and we feel that we can rise to the challenge of playing them,” he adds.