Another year and another Munster Senior Hurling Championship with Clare once again looking to end their long wait for Provincial success.
The Banner County face Limerick at Semple Stadium, Thurles, for the right to meet Cork or Waterford in the final on 9 July, knowing that history is not on their side.
While Limerick go into Saturday’s meeting targeting a first Munster title since 2013, Clare have not tasted such glory since 1998, although in 2013 the Banner County put that disappointment to one side to go on and win an All Ireland.
And recent history doesn’t read much better for either; with both Limerick and Clare exiting at the semi-final stage of last year’s Munster Championship – Clare at the hands of Waterford and Limerick to eventual champions Tipperary. All of which just adds to the pressure.
“I think we are putting a bit of pressure on ourselves, there has always been an excuse over the last few years,” said experienced Clare back Brendan Bugler.
“In 2014 it was a hangover after 13, in 15 we were decimated with injuries, last year it was too close to the League. There are no excuses this year, it is a shocking stat when you look back on 2008 I think was the last time we played in a Munster Final. I think on that day only one current panel member played, Patrick Donnellan.
“All of us want to play in a Munster Final, we want to tog out on that day because it is a special day in the GAA calendar. That is a motivation, to get to that day, we need to try to get over this hurdle.”
Clare overcame beat Dublin 3-18 0-19 in their Division 1 relegation play-off – having enjoyed a thumping 13-point win over Kilkenny – thanks to second half goals from John Conlon and Tony Kelly and under Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor, Bugler is optimistic that this could finally be their year.
“As you can imagine they have put their own little stamp on how they want us to play and also with the personnel they are going with this year. It is different, but it is good,” he said.
“It is just their outlook on the way they want us to play number one, they’d have obviously worked with a lot of the guys at minor and under 21 level.
“They obviously have a view that the game should be played a little bit different to the previous management. They work very well together, the two of them, they are very successful when it comes to their own jobs, they run the set-up like an organisation.
“They are both managers in what they do, they work with people on a day to day basis so their people skills are very, very good. They are a good fit and they know the players, they haven’t worked with me or one or two others, but they have worked with most of those players since they were 16, they know their strengths and weaknesses.”
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