THE manner of Clara’s victory over Rhode made a lot of people stand up and take notice of a side that had been inconsistent earlier in the year.
Under the joint management of Noel Brady and Willie Reynolds, Clara laid down a serious marker of intent in the semi-final with a six point victory over the defending county champions.
They are now installed as firm favourites to win the final against Edenderry and Noel Brady agrees that they will have to guard against complacency.
“We performed reasonably well on Sunday last and people will take it that we are going in as favourites but we wouldn’t accept that at all. From the moment that we got back into the dressing room we emphasised that. Many’s the slip between cup and lip and it can easily happen that we will get overly complacent but we are just not allowing that to happen.”
Clara have rarely been at full strength this year but with the players who were in America for the summer now back in the squad and injured players back in training, Brady says they are almost back to full strength.
“We have a few niggly injuries but I suppose we are going to have them invariably. Our physios have been working hard to keep us intact. Overall we have much improved and that has been part of our issue during the season as we haven’t performed well in any of our first round matches and that is because of our changing teams with lads emigrating, lads been in college and with lads been injured. Now we have settled into a team that we know we can rely on and we have a number of subs that we know can slot in and do a job. Overall, panel wise, it’s been brilliant preparation but unfortunately our performances have suffered to date and maybe we are just starting to get our act together now.”
While there have been ups and downs on the way, Noel Brady agrees that the main thing is being in the final.
“The end result is what counts. We haven’t gotten too many headlines for our earlier performances but we are here now and have reached the promised land of O’Connor Park on October 9. Thats what we set out to do and we hope to go in now and show our stuff.
“Edenderry will be a tough competitor and I know many of the lads personally as I have coached them at underage level and having been involved in the club. Eoin and Ross (Brady) have played with them before and overall I’m looking forward to it and shaking their hands before and just as importantly after when were coming off the pitch together. It’s going to be a very good footballing game and I think the one thing you can say about the two teams is that they are football teams that go out to play a good game of entertaining football.”
He also is well aware of the young talent in the Edenderry side and the structures they have come through.
“The college teams have done very well and it’s a great credit to them. When we went over to Edenderry first, I got involved with Tom (Reilly) and Pascal (Walsh) in the setting up of Bord Na Nog as there was no structure before that. There has been great benefit taken from that and it has been reproduced through the schools with the off shoot of these lads coming through now. It just goes to show. It’s 11 years since we set up Bord Na Nog and these guys are coming through and are in a County Final.”
While Clara have been successful on the field, the club’s financial difficulties off the field have made as many headlines. Noel Brady agreed that the club’s off field problems are severe, winning helps raise the profile.
SEE THIS WEEK’S OFFALY EXPRESS FOR AN 8 PAGE PREVIEW OF THIS WEEKEND’S OFFALY SFC FINAL