GAA Expert & Columnist
Jamesie O'Connor column: Clare, bereft of belief, had no answers
Last Updated: 10/06/19 1:21pm
Sky Sports analyst Jamesie O'Connor reacts to the weekend's hurling games, including Limerick's win over Clare.
Limerick were coming for payback against Clare. They couldn't afford to lose, and weren't lacking for motivation.
Losing both their home games in Munster was inconceivable for the Treaty.
And they delivered a phenomenally impressive performance. You felt after 20 minutes that the game was being played on Limerick's terms. They were dominating the physical exchanges. There was no space at the back for the Clare forwards.
Up the other end, the Limerick half-forward line were dropping deep and were able to pick out Aaron Gillane and Peter Casey inside. It was certainly a reminder to everyone that Limerick are still going to be a major force, and they'll have a massive say in the championship.
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Having said that, Clare didn't have any answers.
It's very hard to see the Banner turning it around from here. There are too many players out of form at the wrong time, guys who were excellent last year, John Conlon and Shane O'Donnell.
To his credit, Peter Duggan tried hard on Sunday, kept going to the end.
Cork have had our number in the last couple of years, and they were impressive and did what had to be done in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night. So it's very hard to see Clare beating them in Ennis. Even if they do, you'd wonder if there'd be any confidence left in the team to say they could live with Tipperary or Limerick in Croke Park later in the summer.
Clare will feel they let themselves down and let the support down. They know they're still right in it, mathematically. It's just hard to see where the form is going to come from.
Outside of Duggan, they only scored two points. That's not going to cut it in the Munster Championship. To live with Tipperary and Limerick, you need to be accumulating close to 30 points.
Clare might be better off being put out their misery and being put out of the championship. They just don't seem to have any confidence or any belief that they can live with the top teams. That's just the unfortunate position they're in.
Clare are off the pace at the moment, and I don't see us recovering in seven days to beat Cork at home.
Rebels gaining momentum
Saturday was always going to be awkward for Cork. The game panned out pretty much the way everyone expected. There was a bit of a bounce and response from Waterford, but Cork had too much for them.
You'd have to be really impressed with some of Cork's interplay and the slickness up front. They got the two goals, and Seamus Harnedy had a great chance for a third. Offensively, Cork have a lot going for them. The fact that they had the likes of Conor Lehane and Shane Kingston to come off the bench indicates the depth they've found.
At the back, they still may be suspect. Waterford got two goals, and they probably could have had a few more goal chances that they didn't take. Some of the questions that arose about the full-back are maybe still there after Saturday. However, Colm Spillane is on the comeback trail.
Clare won't be lacking for motivation when the two teams meet next Sunday, after losing the last two Munster finals to the Rebels. Last year, they looked to be in a great position at half-time. Having lost those two deciders, you'd wonder if there'll be a bounce.
Munster Hurling Championship table
Will Tipp and Limerick be shadow-boxing?
Tipperary are safely into the All-Ireland series. Limerick are all but through.
In Thurles, Tipp will want to go out and beat the Treaty. Out of respect for the other teams, they won't field a weakened team. They're not going to roll over and allow Limerick to walk over them.
That said, Liam Sheedy does have a chance to give experience to last year's U21 stars.
I think Tipp will field a strong team and go out to win the match. But in the back of Sheedy's mind, he'll say 'if we're playing Limerick in the Munster final and later in the year again, do we want to show our full hand?'
On the flip side, they'll be eager to continue their momentum. It's a difficult decision.
We'll only know next Sunday evening.
Sky Sports' live GAA coverage continues on Saturday, June 15 as Wexford host Kilkenny in a must-win Leinster Hurling Championship tie.