Tony Considine: Expectations in Clare were just too high ahead of the Kilkenny game

Tony Considine: Expectations in Clare were just too high ahead of the Kilkenny game

Limerick manager John Kiely during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Limerick and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

NEARLU 40,000 people on Saturday, and at least 25,000 were from Clare, all going with with big expectation. 

But like every team that gets a good run in the championship, especially when unexpected, you get a lot of people jumping on the band wagon. Some had unreal expectations and I believe a lot of the Clare crowd bought into that.

I just could not understand how Clare were made favourites for this game. 

Especially for an All-Ireland semi final in Croke Park against a team that almost owns Croke Park. 

The cats were licking their lips.

It was really into their barrow to see all the media attention on Clare and no one talking about Kilkenny, a team that has won three Leinster titles in a row and a good few All-Ireland medal holders in their ranks, and of course, the most successful GAA manager of all time leading them. 

Isn't it lovely to be going into a game like this as underdogs, with all that history and success behind you. 

They definitely got the cream, and no wonder they were licking their lips.

I'm also sure that Brian Lohan was not buying into all that attention about Clare. 

The familiar pose: Brian Cody 
The familiar pose: Brian Cody 

Brian Lohan is a very good manager and has done a great job with his team this year, but Lohan is no one's fool. 

He is a realist and this is a game I'm sure he had big concerns about, especially after their lucky escape against Wexford. 

He knew then that they could have been beaten, but more importantly he knew his team had gone very flat after the epic Munster final, and sometimes it is very hard to get back up to that level again, particularly when you lose. 

It is more a mental thing than physical and it was very evident in this game that it was still there. 

You can try all you like to get it right but sometimes you are fire fighting, and then when a team starts hitting wides, and very bad wides, twenty plus, they are playing as individuals and forgetting about team ethic.

That is what happened to Clare in this game - individuals doing things they would not normally do, and did not do in their previous games - but that is what happens when mental fatigue sets in. 

No better team than Kilkenny to find your weakness, and then go for the jugular and punish you severely in the only way they know, popping scores over from all angles.

And finally, getting a goal that would finish you off, and with guys like Huw Lawlor and Paddy Deegan, Eoin Murphy and Mickey Butler, minding everything in defence, and with Adrian Mullen, T.J. Reid and Eoin Cody and Cian Kenny taking full advantage, there was only ever one winner in this game from the word go. 

You could say it was over after twenty minutes Kilkenny were so dominant. 

What's new?

Nothing, Kilkenny in another All-Ireland final.

Sunday's game was a different kettle of fish.

I suppose there was a lot of Cork interest in this game, after all Galway had put Cork out of the championship by the narrowest of margins. 

I gave Galway a right chance in this game, for the fact that it was in Croke Park in an All-Ireland semi final, and Galway always seem to perform there in the past in previous semis, and by God they were no different here. 

They put it up to the champions and put it up to them big time, and only for the very bad wides they had, and some bad decision making, I believe they should have won this game. 

They allowed Limerick to do things that they should not have allowed, like loose marking and allowing short puck outs. 

Limerick play to a structure and you have got to upset it at all times.

Galway only did it on a few occasions and it was productive, for instance, direct high ball into the Limerick full back line caused them problems, also the Brian Concannon goal proved that, but Galway did not do this enough.

Early in the game allowing Aaron Gillane and Seamus Flanagan to score points without any pressure being applied - these two are good finishers even when marked tightly, but give them extra space and they will do more damage. 

Galway allowed Limerick to take too many short puck outs without putting any pressure on them.

Giving away possession like that to this Limerick side is absolutely crazy, because they will punish you.

Still Henry can be happy enough with his first year in charge, but he knows, or at least he should know, that they left this one behind them. 

John Kiely will be very happy that he is in another All-Ireland final and when the game was there to be won they went after it. 

He can thank Diarmuid Byrnes frees and sub David Reidy's points, for getting them over the line, and talking to some Limerick people, the team they definitely wanted to meet in the final was Kilkenny. 

Their wish has come through now. 

Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.

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