Clare manager Colm Collins says the incentive for Clare is huge when they entertain Kildare in Cusack Park this Saturday, writes Joe Ó Muircheartaigh.
A COUPLE of years ago it took Kildare everything in their arsenal to get over the challenge of Limerick in an All-Ireland Round 3 Qualifier in O’Moore Park in Portlaoise.
It wasn’t until extra-time that the Lilywhites finally shook off the challenge of the Shannonsiders. Maurice Horan’s side were seconds away from victory before Emmet Bolton brought the game to extra-time, from where Kieran McGeeney’s men kicked on to a 0-19 to 0-12 win.
It’s that game which should give Clare great encouragement in Cusack Park as they face down a Kildare team now managed by Jason Ryan.
Limerick gave it a lash and came so close to a famous win – Clare are certainly going to give it a lash.
“On the league standings Kildare are the highest rated team we could have drawn,” admits manager Colm Collins, “but we’ll have a right go at them and won’t be standing looking at them.
“We’re delighted with the home draw – that’s the big thing. Any of the other three teams are top class teams, so we didn’t mind who it was after that, but to have them at home is great.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity. If you can beat Kildare, you’re in the last 12 and that’s where we set out to get to at the start of the year. Getting there you are in a really good place and then you’d never know – another win after that gets you into the All-Ireland Quarter-Finals. It’s really something to look forward to,” adds Collins.
Under Collins Clare have played 12 competitive games between league and championship – their only defeats coming against Tipperary on two occasions in the league and Kerry in the Munster semi-final, all the while ticking some crucial boxes along the way.
League promotion; a championship win against Waterford; taking on Kerry without fear and with confidence.
The game against Kerry may have been lost by four points, but Kerry’s subsequent Munster final performance against Cork added lustre to the Bannermen’s display ahead of what was a command performance against Carlow.
“We got some great scores against Carlow and were moving well,” says Collins, “and even though we had done very well against Kerry there was no room for any complacency against Carlow. We knew we could get into a battle if there was.
“Now we really looking forward to Kildare. What I’d say about the team is that from the minute they came back after the Kerry game they’ve been totally focused and have embraced the Qualifiers because traditionally since the Qualifier system came in we haven’t been very good in them.
“Now if we’re serious about improvement and serious about going forward and getting promotion to Division 3 we need to face up and believe we can beat the likes of Kildare. We’re looking at it as a great challenge and a great chance – we will do everything to try and get that result,” he adds.
According to Collins, tidying up things in defence is key. “We know we can’t be conceding 2-13 like we did against Carlow, because if we do that we won’t have a chance of winning the game.
“We have to work on that, but we will. There’s a great incentive for the players to drive on. It would be a big lift to win and would set up a last 12 game against either the losers of Leinster and Ulster – it would be fantastic to be looking ahead to a game against that type of opposition.”
That’s where Clare football wants to be.