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Clare Set For Week Of Hell With More Embarrassment Looming

Clare Set For Week Of Hell With More Embarrassment Looming
By Aonghus Ó Maicín

"There was a inner satisfaction, a fulfillment of the dream", said Ger Loughnane of beating Tipperary in 1999.

Two decades on, and the difference in mood is stark for Banner men.

Already, Tipperary are playing at a level that suggests the championship is done and dusted. Who can stop them?

It was impossible to oppose Liam Sheedy's men coming into the game, after impressive victories over both Cork and Waterford. But the nature of the defeat, a 13-point drubbing, has left Clare with a lot of questions. Some that will require an horrendous level of self-analysis to answer

The bright form they began their championship campaign with has now been thrown into the depths of doubt, especially given the thumping Limerick handed the Déise in Walsh Park yesterday afternoon.

Nicky English, the Tipperary manager who shared a touchline with Loughnane 20 years ago, said as much in his Irish Times column this morning.

For Clare it’s all a bit worrying. Their win in Walsh Park was a positive start to the campaign but the reservations about the failure to put Waterford away have increased in the intervening weeks.

The one-point victory over the league finalists, albeit away from home, suddenly doesn't look so impressive. Maybe that is to discount the run of form Tipperary have discovered, but the evident dearth of desire, despite the quality of the opposition, is a real worry.

It was the obvious lack of response from the 2013 All-Ireland champions that was most noticeable for the Sunday Game pundit, Jackie Tyrell.

During the post-match analysis, the former Kilkenny defender was scathing of Clare's efforts.

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It was like a good senior team against a bad junior team, being honest. It was that bad for Clare. After the goal in the second half it was game over. Clare never raised a gallop, they never put any fight up, no leaders stepped up - it's just a really bad day for Clare.

Anthony Daly's column, meanwhile, was heavily critical of Clare's management team, led by Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor, in this morning's Irish Examiner.

To be honest, I'm sick of listening to managers and pundits about systems, and that includes the present Clare management. I understand all that stuff but it drives me demented when teams are leaning on them too heavily.

So who is to blame?

Players? Managers? Both?

Whatever about defending his own decisions, Moloney defended his players when speaking to the Sunday Game after yesterday's encounter.

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People are entitled to their opinions. We know these guys very, very well. They've shown tremendous character and tremendous leadership down through the years for Clare.

It's very easy to pass high-level remarks like that - people are entitled to do so. But we know the character of these men.

The soul-searching has already begun, with solutions needed urgently ahead of a daunting task in the Gaelic Grounds against the All-Ireland champions, Limerick, this weekend.

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Fair enough, the Clare situation is not as grave as Waterford's, though Clare just about held on to beat the 2017 All-Ireland finalists on the first day of the championship.

The numbers, therefore, suggest Clare are going to be on the end of another almighty hiding this weekend, a pill that is always that extra little bit bitter to swallow that side of the country.

As weeks go, the coming one will be as hellish as it gets for Clare players - as the juggle the need for introspection and preparation for battle. For last year's All-Ireland semi-finalists, it's quickly become a case of avoiding mortification.

That semi-final is a world away now.

SEE ALSO: Waterford Routed, Embarrassed, And Hopeless As 2017 Feels A Lifetime Away

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