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All-Ireland quarter-final duel with Derry holds no fear for my fired-up Clare, maintains boss Colm Collins

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Clare manager Colm Collins says his men aren't fazed

Clare manager Colm Collins says his men aren't fazed

©INPHO/Tom Maher

Conor Glass can be a chief threat for Derry

Conor Glass can be a chief threat for Derry

©INPHO/John McVitty

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Clare manager Colm Collins says his men aren't fazed

Clare football team manager Colm Collins is not known for shouting from the rooftops but in the immediate aftermath of his team’s All-Ireland qualifier defeat of Roscommon, he was only too keen to heap praise on his players after their stunning 2-15 to 1-17 triumph.

Now the longest-serving senior boss on the island, Collins has seen Clare reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals for only the second time in their history and when they take the field against Derry at Croke Park, Dublin today (3.45pm) there will not be the slightest hint of an inferiority complex in their make-up.

That’s because the fiercely-driven Collins has already drummed it into his players that they must continue to reach for the sky.

“These boys never know when they are beaten, they never give up. We will respect Derry but we won’t fear them,” asserted Collins.

The feeling will be mutual, one assumes, as the teams prepare to revive the rivalry created during the recent Allianz League when Derry came out on top.

Since then, Clare’s eclipse of Roscommon and Derry’s dismissal of Tyrone, Monaghan and Donegal have provided much food for thought in each camp. While Collins can provide the robust rhetoric to inspire Clare, Rory Gallagher’s pragmatic encouragement will do much to keep the Oak Leaf side afloat.

Never one to mince his words, Collins sees today’s match as a seminal assignment for his team.

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“This is a massive test for us but we are ready for it,” he said tersely.

Keelan Sexton, Jamie Malone, Pearse Lillis and Podge Collins are players who are capable of making life difficult for the Oak Leaf men while in turn Conor Glass, Chrissy McKaigue, Brendan Rogers and Shane McGuigan have the capacity to lay the groundwork for Clare to be kept in subjection.

With both teams harbouring an intense hunger to take a further step into the national spotlight, there will be no quarter asked or given this afternoon.

The wide open spaces of Croke Park look inviting from a Derry perspective, though, and the momentum generated through their recent sequence of wins might prove sufficient to take them a step closer to a potential sporting heaven.


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