CLARE BOSS DAVY FITZGERALD has declared that ‘anything is possible’ after witnessing his side brush Limerick’s challenge aside to reach the All-Ireland Hurling Final.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Fitzgerald told RTÉ. “In 120 years we’ve been there five, six, seven times. For a county like ours it’s an incredible achievement. I’m proud of the lads. They were unreal.”
Warned to stay off the pitch during one or two excitable incursions, Fitzgerald was calmness personified in his post-match interview. He admitted to being worried about how his young charges would handle the magnitude of an All-Ireland semi-final at a packed Croke Park.
He added, “Early on in the game, Limerick missed a lot of chances. We were trying to force them to take their shots early… but Limerick have great character and they showed that again when they came at us in the second-half. Hats off to them, they are great Munster champions but, thanks be to God, we got over the line.
We’ve so many of [players] out there that are so young out there. They didn’t do too bad but they’ll be hard on themselves and they’ll know that we have to improve a lot to beat Cork. We won’t be able to give them the shooting chances that we gave [Limerick] today.”
The former Clare goalkeeper recalled the tight tussles his team has already fought with Cork this season, including an eight-point win back in June.
The young players, he declared, were a joy to work with. “Anything is possible when you work with a team that follow your instructions to the last,” he added.
Fitzgerald paid credit to the county’s supporters for getting fully behind the team and decorating towns all over Clare in blue and yellow bunting. Playing into September, he added, was the best way to pay the fans back for the fervent support.
“We’re over the moon, as management, as a panel. Just thrilled,” he concluded.
Davy Fitzgerald shakes hands with vanquished Limerick boss John Allen. ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Limerick manager John Allen lamented the lack of control his players had on the outcome of the game and were chasing the tie after Clare’s first-half goal.
Allen said his side’s five-week wait to play again after their Munster Final win was not ideal but he ‘would not dream of using that as an excuse’. He refuted suggestions that he should have went to his bench sooner in the match and added that Seamus Hickey’s injury was a costly blow.
Asked by RTÉ if he was going to stay on as Limerick boss, Allen said, “Like [Dublin manager] Anthony Daly last Sunday, we’ll sit on that for a wee while and see how we get on.”