The last time Clare won a Munster title was 1998. They need a Munster Championship more than Cork do.
There’s an extra prize on offer on Sunday too. Not only do you win Munster, you take the path straight to the All-Ireland semi-final and avoid the dramas of the quarter-finals.
There’ll be some really good hurling teams left in the competition at that stage. Both sides will need to take the most direct route because they’ve already played five games.
Before, if you played five games you’d have an All-Ireland won, now you have to play five games just to win Munster. The benefits of avoiding the quarter-finals will be huge, both in terms of recovery and getting your homework on the potential opposition done.
Where you can, you’ve got to keep winning every single game you play.
Banner bounce back
If Clare win Munster they are making a massive statement. I was very critical about them after their first game with Cork, I saw failures and difficulties within that team.
But, I’ll hold my hands up and say they’ve turned it around. They’ve really upped the ante and the management team, along with the players will be very happy with how they’ve come through it.
However, now Clare need silverware to keep the momentum going. Beat the four big teams in Munster in one season would be a huge achievement for them.
It was very obvious against Cork in the opener that Clare were trying to play the ‘perfect’ game. They were trying to create the perfect score or goal opportunity.
They’ve now made changes to the team and how they want to play.
They’ve swapped Peter Duggan and John Conlon which has been of huge benefit to them. They’re certainly in a better place now than a couple of weeks ago.
Cut the turnovers Cork
Cork need to stop turning over the ball and move it quicker out of defence at their end.
It is okay to use the short ball to get yourself out of trouble sometimes though. Players are directed to get the ball to the player in the best position, even if he’s only 30 yards from goal, that’s what you do.
Players make decisions based on the best option available to them.
Cork just need to do things a bit quicker and fine tune themselves.
That’s not just the defenders by the way, there’s an onus on the forwards to get themselves into position faster.
It’s all fine to say ‘Cork backs are slow to get rid of the ball’, but you have to give them an option to get the sliotar into space or in your hand.
Conor’s close to firing
The worrying thing previously was Cork were not getting Conor Lehane on the ball and they couldn’t find him with it. However, the last day Lehane found himself on the ball more, that was a huge positive for The Rebels.
Fellas will say he didn’t do much with it other than the three points he got from play. The key thing for me though was that he got on it in the first place.
If Cork can find him again on Sunday, I believe he’ll be a lot sharper because he’ll be after benefiting from the break and he’ll have a bit more training done.
I’d always allow Conor the freedom just to go and get the sliotar, be it in the full or half forward lines. He’s a very intelligent player and you have to allow him that freedom to play.
He’s a man for the big day.
Davy’s ghost is gone
Keiran Kingston and myself have come across Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor a lot over the last number of years and they are very serious guys, but very genuine men too.
They’re very professional in what they do and you can now see their authority in Clare with the way they want to play the game. Especially over the last few weeks that has been very evident to see.
The Davy Fitzgerald era is well gone from Clare and this is their time now.
It took a bit of a while for Clare to turn, but fair play to them for doing just that.
They’ve found a recipe for success.
Rebels will rise to victory
I’d still fancy Cork to win on Sunday.
There’ll be a wonderful Cork crowd in Thurles and it’s sell out.
We’ve been treated to a brilliant Munster Championship and hopefully, the final tops it off.
As hurling supporters, we’ve been blessed by what we’ve seen and for me a Cork victory will finish that off.