Soul-searching begins in Clare after 40 point minor hiding
Cork 6-28 Clare 0-6.
Between two hurling counties who traditionally bring the best out of each other, there's a scoreline you might have to do a double-take on.
It's a score-line that, regardless of how impressive this Cork team is, should have alarm bells ringing the length and breadth of county Clare.
The Clare minors shipped a 40 point hiding to Cork in the Munster minor championship first round on Wednesday night but according to those with their finger-on-the-banner-pulse, a defeat like this one has been a long time coming.
In Clare, whispers of discontent have been doing the rounds for a couple of years now as regards underage teams, their gear and nutrition provisions but it all came to a head on Wednesday night as according to Niall O'Connor, son of former joint Clare manager Gerry, this group "were on a hiding to nothing from a long way out."
O'Connor, who has raised funds for Clare hurling in the past, says that this Clare team suffered from not having a management team in place throughout 2020 while the lack of an under-16 county championship in the same year also held them back.
"Worth pointing out Throughout 2020 when cork were getting the best of S & C, the best of coaching (A good lot online due to COVID) and & best of nutrition sent to them that Clare panel tonight were in the wilderness with nobody to look after them. No management the whole year," O'Connor Tweeted.
Also should be pointed out that Clare were most likely the only county in Ireland that had no Under 16 hurling championship last year. So under 16s either played two years above their age last year or didn't play at all. This group was on a hiding to nothing from a long way out. https://t.co/1dmfYlwSSP
— Niall O Connor (@nialloc90) July 14, 2021
"Some top class people in that management team but they weren't going to work miracles and unfortunately weren't on an even footing.
"Also should be pointed out that Clare were most likely the only county in Ireland that had no Under 16 hurling championship last year. So under 16s either played two years above their age last year or didn't play at all. This group was on a hiding to nothing from a long way out."
Meanwhile, former Clare All-Ireland winner Colin Ryan says that the underage system in his county has been in decline for a while.
"Feel sorry for our minor players and hopefully it won't scar them but underage structure and s and c has been in decline for a while... Good people in schools and in county have tried to rectify recently but poor minors were cannon fodder which is horrible. Structure change quick," he tweeted.
The tone of the discussion reflects poorly not so much on the management or on the team, but on the running of hurling in the county.
It can't be up to each individual management to just fend for themselves, complete lack of organisation and structures. It has to be a pathway to senior success....
— colin ryan (@Ryan5C) July 14, 2021
Obviously, a huge point in this is just how impressive Cork were. GAA Hour pundit Paddy Stapleton was on commentary for the game and he says that such was Cork's physicality that they looked more like an under-20 team. Their star man Jack Leahy was nigh on unplayable, racking up 3-9 on the night while injuries and a relatively young age-profile won't have helped the Clare cause. Still, there is no smoke without fire and in Clare, there is certainly work to do.
It will be interesting to see if this was an outlier or if they can dominate the Munster Championship overall. The Clare lads are only U17 & U16 - they have lots of time to improve but that certainly didn't do them any good.
— Paddy Stapleton (@pasaint) July 15, 2021