Cunningham laments 'sea of red' in Semple
Clare hurler Aaron Cunningham has expressed surprise at the extent to which the Banner were outnumbered by Cork supporters for last Sunday's Munster SHC final.
And he reckons they played a key role in propelling the Rebels across the finishing line in Semple Stadium.
Cunningham appeared off the bench during the fourth quarter but, even from the Thurles warm-up, he could sense the disparity in numbers.
"When you go out and see the sea of red you're thinking 'What's going on here?' We obviously knew Cork had a huge following and we were going to be outnumbered, but even the Clare end looked like a sea of red to us," he admitted at yesterday's All-Ireland SHC series launch in Glynn Barntown GAA Club, Wexford.
"The difference when the Cork team ran out and the Clare team ran out was completely chalk and cheese. And the two goals were both scored at vital times - and the difference in the roar from the supporters."
Contrary to the notion that players are oblivious to such 'outside' influences, Cunningham said: "It's great when you score and the crowd gets behind you. It really does push you on; and you feel like you are emptying and you haven't much more to give, it helps you on.
"The last couple of minutes when the game was over, the Cork crowd chanting and getting behind the players, it definitely got them over the line."
The Clare forward is at a loss to know why their support base appears to have shrunk since the county's 'back door' All-Ireland heroics of 2013.
"It is disappointing. It's not as if Clare have been in Munster finals every second year and people had been sick of going to them or losing them," he reasoned.
"It was our first Munster final since 2008, hadn't won it since 1998. We were expecting a huge crowd but they just didn't come. Very disappointing.
"Hopefully they can get out the next day. Maybe Páirc Uí Chaoimh might encourage a few of them to go down and make a trip out of that."
Clare could do with all the support they can muster on Saturday week, with their quarter-final shot at All-Ireland redemption pitting them against holders Tipperary.
While the chance to feature in the official opening of Cork's totally revamped new home won't compensate for losing to the Leesiders, Cunningham is still enthused by the prospect.
"We're going down to train there this weekend," the Wolfe Tones clubman explained.
"I think once we go down there, that will probably bring the excitement once we get to look at the dressing-rooms and get out on the pitch. Everyone wants to play in the best facilities that they can so the excitement will start building."
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