This Saturday night in Thurles Cork and Clare renew their rivalry which has captivated the hurling public over the last two years. Its Do or die for both teams on the field as the loser will exit the 2015 Championship but in reality the same could be said for the two men on the sideline as the losing managers’s job is sure to come under major scrutiny as a result.
Before we touch on why these manangers could be under some pressure come Saturday night, its worth noting how this rivalry all started. Both managers are currently in their fourth year in charge and they have both overseen some belters between the two counties.
2013 was the year where it came to life where they incredibly played each other competitively five times over the course of the season. It started with a riveting relegation play off which Clare were victorious in which led on to a Munster semi-final meeting where the rebels turned them over. All of this was only the starter to the main course as they of course met each other again in the All Ireland Final not once but twice.
The 2013 All Ireland final replay is genuinely regarded as one of the greatest finals in the modern era.In the end It was the banner who won the Liam Mc Carthy cup for the 1st time in 16 years and the fourth time in history. A final that will live long in the memory as it announced the arrival of a young Shane O Donnell onto the scene as he scored a hat-trick on his first start in championship hurling. Some of the scores on the day were simply from a different planet and if truth be told neither team has managed to reach that level since.
You can relive that final in all its glory below. ( Sorry Cork Fans)
Since that day in 2013 the Rebels have managed to get revenge with a win over Clare in the Munster Semi- Final last year. That result has to be taken with a grain of salt though as the banner were shown to be a far cry of the team in 2013 as Wexford showed in beating them in the qualifiers. In saying that the rebels thus went on to win the Munster Championship but were unable to reach the holy grail in the meantime as defeat to Tipperary ended their summer.
That brings us nicely along to the present and the weekends game. Two teams that are trying to find themselves again and a win on Saturday certainly has the potential to do just that. Lose and it could be curtains quite literally. Two managers that are under insurmountable pressure only adds to the occasion and here’s where this pressure comes from.
Taking Clare and Davy Fitzgerald first. There is a growing amount of discontent being felt among Clare supporters with regards to the current team management. The controversy involving Nicky O’ Connell and Davy O’Halloran at the beginning of the year only adding to this. The main issue for supporters though seems to be the demeanor of Davy in interviews and on the sideline as there’s a train of thought that this is bring untoward attention on to the team. Of course a county like Clare winning the All Ireland will give him massive leeway but the fact that they haven’t even reached a Munster final with the talent at his disposal is also concerning. It still remains to be seen whether Davy is indeed the man to bring through this golden generation of Clare players who have the potential to achieve magical things.
On the other hand Cork and Jimmy Barry Murphy are also facing huge pressure ahead of Saturday. Cork have fallen short too many times recently in big games so there has to be an issue here. JBM has been up to now been a real traditional manager by playing 15 on 15 hurling and over the years Clare, Tipperary and Waterford have all figured them out. Its unknown whether the cork boss has the necessary tactical nous to bring Cork to that next level as a result. Cork do seem to be stuck in the unknown at the moment.The lack of top level players coming through is also hurting them at the moment but the manager cant be blamed for this. The Cork Hurling public are usually a patient bunch but even they may be losing it with a man who was once the messiah on Leeside.
Semple Stadium on Saturday is all or nothing for both teams with failure to even make a Quarter- Final likely to be the final straw for that respective County Board. Expect Fireworks on and off the field as absolutley everything is on the line. It could be tasty.