Monday 24 October 2016

Banner's greater attacking variety should see them through another epic battle with Déise

Clare’s Tony Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile
Clare’s Tony Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile

One by one over the last three weeks, Clare's players and management formed a snaking queue to say that their League final replay win over Waterford would "count for nothing" tomorrow when the two face each other again in Thurles.

Which, in one sense, is true.

That result won't provide anything but a sense of grievance for Waterford who, in all fairness, should have won it.

But for Clare, a team who had emphatically failed to follow up their All-Ireland in 2013, it can't but have given them renewed optimism that all that magic dust hadn't simply blown away. Whether the result or either match (draw and replay) is illustrative of how this game will play out, tactically and visually, is another story.


The first day we had a fudge. A morass of bodies in the middle third, attempting to out-ruck each other and flick to someone close by in space.

Except there was no space.

And a couple of lonely inside forwards at either end of the pitch, flanked by a man-marker, sitting behind a sweeper and another idle corner-back.

The replay was different, but perhaps only because Waterford scored that goal after 16 seconds, which had its origins in its very timing.

Patrick Curran was left one-on-one with his man after a quick ball in because Clare were still in the process of dropping another man back.

Waterford's other goal, Jake Dillon's, came off the back of a direct turn-over by Pat O'Connor as Clare were left on the back foot, exposed and vulnerable.

Really, Clare had Tony Kelly's brilliance to thank for their win and there's a chance that Waterford will take much more preventative measures to stop a repeat.

But so versatile are the main protagonists on both teams and so inventive and free-thinking are their respective managers, it's almost impossible to predict who will line out where, for how long, and to what end.

Maurice Shanahan and Pauric Mahony will give Waterford a bit more oomph in attack but Clare not only have more potential big-scorers, they have serious variety from midfield up.

It could, for instance, be Darach Honan who does the damage tomorrow. Or Podge Collins or Conor McGrath or Shane O'Donnell.

But if enough of them fire, Clare should win.

ODDS: Waterford 6/5, Draw 8/1, Clare 10/11


munster shc: clare v waterford (live rté2 tomorrow, 4.0)

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