If ever you want a moment to show that hurling needs a crowd, then look no further 2 months ago

If ever you want a moment to show that hurling needs a crowd, then look no further

Calum Lyons punched the air the moment it left his hurl because he knew that, even though it would have been the robbery of all robberies, even though this was  one of those days at the office, this was only a one-score game now.

The same thing had just dawned on Brian Lohan and if at that moment you'd turned your eyes to the legendary full back, you'd have seen a man who was fit to be tied. How Clare weren't on the road home already, thinking nice things and looking ahead to Tipp, you said to yourself, is probably the reason they've won nothing since 2016.

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Brian Lohan was in no mood to bottle it up and when he was letting boys have it, when he was jumping up and down like a farmer who'd just watched his cattle break out of a pen, there was a moment just then when you realised that this could have been so much more.

Because in 70 minutes of otherwise dull, uninspired hurling, this was the first time your heart began to race like you were at a Munster championship game. This was the first time it really hit you.

It was in the Kinane Stand you sat, looking around to see no more than 10 Waterford subs and 20 other reporters in what is a 20,000 seater stand. You knew that if there were even 1000 more spectators in the grounds that this place would have been shaking, that it would have felt like something you'd call the white heat but instead it was calm, it was hollow and for Clare, those nerves they should have felt, those roars they should have heard just slipped into the day.

Hurling just isn't the same without crowds and with people criticising the games and their flatness, it's fairly clear where most of this flatness is coming from.

"Jesus, I’d love to see more fans at the game," said Brian Lohan afterwards.

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"It would be an awful lot less hassle for us from a ticketing perspective. We got 80 tickets, we tried to give two players to each one of the players, so that was 74 tickets, so we’d six for our backroom team, so it meant some of our backroom had to stay at home again. So we could do with a couple more, but that decision is out of my hands," he added.

The powers that be must stand up now. So must Clare, says Lohan, who in his post-match interview gave the impression that there will be more than just shooting drills at Clare training this week.

"It was a bit frantic yeah. That's what happens when you start missing shots that you'd normally put over. There's a little bit of panic sets in. I don't know what our wide count was but our wide count and our decision making probably needs to be improved on, fairly drastically."

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If Lohan has concerns then the typically honest Liam Cahill has problems. Serious problems which he intends to stare down with the cold-blooded conviction that makes you think that while Waterford are down but they may not be out.

"We could have been beaten by a lot more to be honest," Cahill said matter-of-factly.

"I have to throw everything at this now. I’m going to look at it really stringently and rigorously because ultimately too many lads failed today.

"Too many players failed today for my liking."

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Cahill has never seen a bush he wanted to beat around.

"I have 37 on the squad and they’re all putting in great work. We had 11 guys training earlier this morning that trained really, really hard. They must be looking in at that saying, “what have I to do to get into the squad?” I’ll be rewarding any player that puts their hand up over the next fortnight or three weeks for a qualifier because at this stage I’ve nothing to lose. I’m going to throw everything at it between now and then."

"But I will give the lads credit, they stuck right in near the end, you know they kept hurling away.  Maybe one or two little chances near the end would have brought it back to three points and going down the home straight you wouldn’t know what might happen.

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"But when you’re clinging to them kind of things against a team of the quality of Clare with their backs up, you don’t usually come out the right side of it.  That’s be the most disappointing part of it that, for a young, energetic team – when I say young with the exception of one or two players, the rest of our team are early 20s – we were just flat.

"Again we’re going to all have to look at it from a management perspective and see what caused that today.  But definitely it’s a concern."