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Co Football Final Preview

posted 7 Oct 2010, 14:36 by Unknown user   [ updated 7 Oct 2010, 14:36 by Denis Tuohy Agricultural Consultant ]

THE psychology surrounding Sunday’s 116th Clare senior football final could have a significant influence on the result. It definitely will if both Doonbeg and Liscannor have not addressed potential trip wires well before the 3.30pm start time in Cusack Park.

Once Doonbeg qualified for the semi–final, their meeting with county and Munster champions Kilmurry-Ibrickane had an epochal feel about it. Nobody said it but there was a discernible sense that a third successive semi–final loss would strip this Doonbeg team off all remnants of resolve.   
From where would they find the stomach to start again in 2011 if they had again fallen in the penultimate round? Remember, they were also beaten in the 2007 and ’08 Cusack Cup finals and indeed lost narrowly to Miltown in this year’s league semi–final. 
Now that they have beaten Kilmurry though, can Doonbeg park that result and rise their game again for Liscannor? Beating Kilmurry will have infused them with welcome confidence but is there a chance that they might, subliminally, feel that Liscannor will not present a similarly onerous obstacle? 
Putting it simply, unless Doonbeg are as clearly focused and prepared for Liscannor as they were for Kilmurry, they won’t be bringing an 18th county title west on Sunday evening. 
Liscannor, too, have some psychological issues to wrestle with and tame if they are to make history and bring Jack Daly to their parish for the first time. While an amalgamation from North Clare containing eight Liscannor men won the 1940 Senior Football Championship, a win this weekend would be Liscannor’s first title on their own. To manage it, they will have to perform better than they did in 2008, when they were never in real contention against Kilmurry. They have won all three semi–finals played since 2002 but they must work on peaking come county final afternoon if they are to do it.  
The fact that Doonbeg are their opponents will mean Liscannor won’t fear them the way they might be wary of Kilmurry, who also beat them in the ’02 and ’08 final. On top of that, Liscannor defeated Doonbeg in the ’08 semi–final, so they have that fairly recent memory to draw from. Therefore, the psychological advantage should be with Liscannor. They know what county final day is all about, their motivation to win should be huge and they won’t be afraid of anything Doonbeg have to offer. 
Away from what either team may be thinking, where will the on-field advantages lie? Liscannor should hold sway in midfield with Brian Considine likely to be partnered with Ronan Slattery, who has lined-out there since Alan Flaherty’s suspension, although the latter will be available this weekend. 
Colm Dillon will have a huge job taking on Considine, while Slattery and Enda Doyle are likely to pair up. Doyle should get about the field more effectively but Slattery will thrive if there is a bit of combat in the middle. He will have to improve his distribution though, which wasn’t great in the semi–final against Cooraclare. 
Both teams will strive to cut down on scoreable frees. If they don’t, both Alan Clohessy and David Tubridy should tot up handy scores. In fact, Clohessy’s semi–final free taking is one of the primary reasons Liscannor made it through. However, he will have to contribute  more in the Doonbeg half of the field from open play. Clohessy tracked very impressively against Cooraclare but if Liscannor are to win their first title, he might have to chip in with a couple of scores from play. 
Liscannor could opt to revert Ronan Slattery to centre-back and place Dara Blake on David Tubridy but they are more likely to leave their full-back intact. The trio played very well last time out and a change now might not help the confidence. What Liscannor need to do is put the pressure on the kicker outfield so that he can’t easily pick out the runs of Tubridy and Shane Ryan. 
Padraig Gallagher will probably pick up Kieran Considine, while Conor Whelan could step in if Considine repeats his impressive semi–final display. 
Players who will have key roles to play if their team is to win include Niall Considine, Joe Considine and Denis Murphy, in possibly a substitutes role, while Brian Egan, Shane Killeen and Frank O’Dea will have to make it happen for the hour in the Doonbeg half-forward line to get their hands on Jack. 
Tradition suggests Doonbeg will win and if Liscannor buy that, they are finished. This group of Liscannor footballers are capable of creating their own tradition and, in fact, have done so already. To complete the picture, though, they must win a senior title. Their overwhelming desire to do it should be evident in Cusack Park all Sunday afternoon. 
Come 5pm, David McDonagh can become the first Liscannor man to captain his club to a senior championship. They have the motivation and the men to make it happen.