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Fitzgerald predicts league trouble for Clare

The Banner County manager claims his All-Ireland champions are ‘a mile off the pace’ ahead of their opening Division 1A fixture.

Fitzgerald (file photo).
Fitzgerald (file photo).
Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

CLARE MANAGER DAVY Fitzgerald has predicted relegation trouble for his All-Ireland champions in this year’s Allianz National Hurling League.

Fitzgerald believes that the Banner County will struggle in the competition following a winter of celebrations.

Clare beat Cork last year to preserve their top flight status and Fitzgerald suspects that it could be another tough campaign for his side.

Kilkenny are the visitors to Cusack Park in Ennis next Sunday for the opening fixture of the new campaign in Division 1A.

And Clare’s confidence levels took a hit last Friday evening when a team containing eight of the starters in last September’s All-Ireland final replay victory over Cork suffered a 14-point defeat against Tipperary in the Waterford Crystal Cup final.

Fitzgerald admitted that Clare “are a mile off the pace” and he is anticipating a massive challenge from a Kilkenny side smarting from a disappointing championship season in 2013.

Fitzgerald revealed: “Kilkenny are training since November – like dogs.

“I know what’s coming. I’ve told the Clare public for the last four or five weeks what’s happening.

All we will do is do the best we can. It’s been a tough couple of months, we’ve had a tough schedule – that goes with being All-Ireland champions.

“But listen, I’d still rather be where we were last year than where any other team is at the moment.

“They can never take away that – All-Ireland champions. But we’re a mile off the pace, we’ll struggle to win games in the League.

“I think we will improve as the year goes on, we will get stronger. I think we will struggle in the League – we will struggle in the League.”

Fitzgerald acknowledged that Clare struggled to cope with Tipperary on Friday evening as the Premier County racked up a massive tally of 4-22 at the Gaelic Grounds.

The Premier County laid down an early marker with a comprehensive which was a contrast to last year’s corresponding fixture betwen the counties, when Clare ran riot at Semple Stadium.

Fitzgerald said: “It wasn’t in the tank – the fight wasn’t there as much as last year. We have a lot of work to, an awful lot of work. But listen, we’re in for a tough few months. We’ll have to take on the chin what comes to us.”

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About the author:

Jackie Cahill

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