Captain Kelly using Munster League as a stepping stone

Clare;s Captain Tony Kelly discusses the game with Co-Manager Gerry O'Connor at half time

The Munster League Cup never made it down to the rest of the Clare players. They had long since retired to the confines of the dressing rooms in the Gaelic Grounds by the time captain Tony Kelly was able to negotiate his way down to the field between selfies, autographs and well-wishers.
It wasn’t about lifting a cup though for Kelly, the Munster League’s benefits were much wider than that as Clare build for another tilt at championship glory.
“This competition is about getting back down to brass tacks and getting the fitness and hurling up for the new year ahead. It’s also about blooding new talent that we have coming through and I think we’ve done that pretty well this year.
“The likes of Aidan McCarthy and Colin Guilfoyle have been getting their chance and trying to put their hands up for a place in the League. So I think it was a good campaign for us, we found a lot of new players and it’s was important to get our focus right for two week’s time when the proper stuff starts.
“Every game we’ve played has been highly competitive and that’s good too especially for younger lads coming in, the pace each week has been upped and upped. I remember thinking coming off the field in Waterford last weekend that the pace was serious for this time of year and even out there today, that was League pace going back two or three years ago.
“The standard of hurling and the physical conditioning of players has just gone through the roof so that’s why this competition is important so that you’re not going into a first round of a League flat and dead and wondering where you are after 20 minutes. And that’s what we have used the last three games for and in fairness we’ve got the maximum out of them.”
And the conversation went along similar lines of progression when asked about what Clare will be looking to get out of the upcoming National League?
“Fitness, hurling, finding new lads and getting yourself ready for the championship. We know, similar to last year that there isn’t much of a down period between the League and Championship so it’s about getting yourself to that peak condition that you know when you get to championship that you can up it another gear.
“Look, we know the standard was high for the Munster League but once you head into the National League, it’s another notch up and then the championship is another two or three notches up.
“It’s all about trying to find new lads and increase competition within the panel. I thought we did that in the last three games. Colin Guilfoyle was good again today, Aidan McCarthy was good as was Diarmuid Ryan and if they can push on again for the League, they’re going to make it harder again for the so-called established players to get back on the team. It’s just the competition for places is what we want for the League and try and give it our best shot every day we go out.”
However, any thoughts that Sunday’s ten point victory over their neighbours will have any bearing on their rematch in Semple Stadium in the first round of the National League in a fortnight’s time was quickly shot down by the game’s Man-of-the-Match.
“Every win you get is a confidence booster but we won’t read too much into today irrespective of the result.
“We’ve had three good games and found new talent but as regards the scoreboard or anything like that for this competition, we won’t pay too much attention to that. We know the opposition that we’re going to face in the National League, we play Tipp again in two week’s time and we know that it’s going to be completely different.”


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