herald

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Big guns hold fire

Cusack reckons Sunday's replay will assume a personality of its own after drawn battle

Waterford’s Maurice Shanahan celebrates after scoring the equalising point against Clarev during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final at Semple Stadium last Sunday. Pic: Sportsfile
Waterford’s Maurice Shanahan celebrates after scoring the equalising point against Clarev during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final at Semple Stadium last Sunday. Pic: Sportsfile
Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald with selector Donal Óg Cusack. Photo: Sportsfile

Afterwards, everyone was asked broadly the same question, just in different disguises.

At what point does winning a League title become an impediment to the eternally more important process of preparing for that seismic Munster SHC clash on June 5th?

Painting the games as a trilogy, as Derek McGrath did, suggests parity of significance.

For all the flintiness of the exchanges last Sunday in Thurles, both Clare and Waterford could very easily digest a League final loss to the other - even after a replay - should they prevail in June.

"Every game has got its own story and its own players and its own actors on the stage," mused Donal Óg Cusack and in doing so, sort of confirmed that suspicion that the teams have alternative artillery to uncover over the next two meetings.

Guise

"It has its own characteristics and from all the games anyone has seen…I bet very few of the replays have taken on the same characteristics or the same guise as the original game."

Given their obvious leanings on structure and prescribed method, de-robing their June plans is probably best avoided.

Davy Fitzgerald reckoned Clare used "three or four different formations," over the 100 or so minutes of a claustrophobic afternoon.

Mostly, it looked like a morass of bodies between the two '65s, with lone gunmen at either end, flanked by enough guards to take out an army.

Which contributed to all the long-distance shot choice and, in turn, the guts of the 39 wides.

"I will say that there was a fierce swirling wind out there as well," Cusack pointed out, in mitigation.

"I know myself from playing here, when the wind is like that - and I said to a few of our players beforehand - don't take the wind (for granted).

"Because if you look at one corner flag, the wind is very often blowing in one direction and another - at the other end of the ground - is blowing a different direction."

"There is a lot of effort goes in. But you've got a lot of very intelligent players out there who understand what's happening," Cusack pointed out.

"There were a lot of them out their feet at the end. You have to give them great credit for that. Both the Waterford and the Clare players. There was none of them wanted to lose."

Cusack, viewed upon his appointment to the Clare backroom team as the balm to Davy Fitz's volcanic persona, couldn't help but feel back part of it all again on the big days in Thurles.

"I love it," he admitted.

"I love being involved with the lads. They're so committed. They're so committed.

"I was watching the Clare people coming in - and I know you could say this about every county - but the effort and commitment that these lads put in because they want to win for their county and for themselves.

"And I love that. And I love being involved in it."

"And I'm delighted to be coming back again next Sunday."

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