“It has been a very disappointing year, there’s no doubt about it. To lose in a qualifier there is no other way to describe it. Maybe last year got to lads’ heads a bit, I don’t know.”
Clare survived the dismissal of Nicky O’Connell for a second bookable offense to record a famous win over a fancied Dublin side.
Man of the match John Conlon typified Clare’s spirit on the day and afterwards he told RTE Radio, “That was fantastic stuff from Clare. When we went down to 14 men we were outstanding.
“Every one of those Clare lads has given 100% this year and the crowd can give out about passing and whatever, these lads have given everything this year.
“It’s just great because I’ve been on the panel now for four years and this is the first championship win in eight games.”
Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald also paid tribute to the spirit displayed by his team in Saturday’s win after their second half drive.
“I knew they wouldn’t fall away, I knew they would keep fighting until the very end,” said Fitzgerald.
“The fight, the passion, the fact that we never stopped. There were some amount of tackles out there, Dublin put in some amount of tackles, and they are a fair team. They worked hard, we worked hard and we came out on top.”
CORK boss Conor Counihan found plenty of room for criticism after his team’s expected win over Clare in the Munster SFC final in Limerick on Sunday.
The Rebels were easy winners on a 3-16 to 0-13 scoreline, but Counihan saw plenty of room for improvement.
“Goals were important and we were fortunate to get a few. Clare had opportunities as well, probably in the second half and didn’t take them,” said Counihan.
“We’d have been disappointed with the second half. We think Clare probably won the second half and we didn’t push on enough. We had the comfort of a couple of goals of a lead and we didn’t build on that.
“We made some basic errors and against a team that would finish better, we’d have been in trouble. We can’t be too negative about it, we’ve won a Munster championship for the first time in three years.”
Clare boss Micheal McDermott was philosophical about the result but critical of match referee Eddie Kinsella, who allowed a controversial third goal for Cork.
McDermott said, “We were very, very competitive despite going one goal, two goals, three goals down. We kept fighting.
“Last year we probably hung the heads and we gave in when we were down in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Here we didn’t. We kept battling right to the end and that was the most pleasing thing about today.
“We had some crazy, crazy decisions against us in the second half, but we held our discipline, we took it on the chin. That’s what Clare football is all about, battling right to the end no matter what is thrown in front of you.”
OFFALY’S season is over after a 1-26 to 2-16 defeat to Cork in the All-Ireland qualifiers on Saturday night, with manager Ollie Baker critical of the current championship structures.
“We’re disappointed, I have 30 lads who’ve put in seven, eight months’ effort, but we’re not going to see a competitive fixture until next February,” Baker told reporters after the game.
“For us to develop as a team, we can’t be competitive on a consistent basis unless we’re playing matches. We’re out of the championship now, but there are a lot of lads inside there who want to be playing hurling. Maybe there should be another look at the structures to make that happen. “We need matches. Challenge matches and training matches are grand, but the amount a game like this will bring the players on but it’s another seven months before we play again.
“That’s a crazy system on one hand, but you can’t reward teams for losing matches either, so you have to have a balance.”
Cork boss Jimmy Barry Murphy said his team were flattered by the seven-point win.
“To win by seven points certainly flattered us. In fairness, it was never a game like that,” said Counihan.
“It’s a learning curve. I kept saying that we weren’t as good as people thought. I think that’s obvious. To win the game at least is a great boost and we’ll move on with confidence after the win.”
PETER Canavan is to remain in charge of the Fermanagh footballers for at least another year despite his team’s defeat to Cavan in the All-Ireland qualifiers. The Fermanagh County Board met with Canavan over the week then released a statement confirming the former Tyrone star is to stay on . . .
CORK will play Wexford and Limerick will meet Clare in the final round of the All-Ireland hurling qualifiers on Saturday with the winners through to the quarter-finals of the championship. Both games will be played in Thurles . . .