Peter Duggan will set friendship aside against Limerick
By John Harrington
Clare’s Peter Duggan says friendships will be put to one side when the Banner County do battle with Limerick in Sunday’s eagerly anticipated Munster SHC clash at Cusack Park.
Many of the players on both sides are good friends having hurled together at University and even secondary school level.
But when the ball is thrown in on Sunday there will be no quarter asked for nor given as both teams go in search of the win that will guarantee a place in the Munster Senior Hurling Final.
“We would all be in college with all of the Limerick players,” said Duggan. “Any of the Munster games there would be a huge rivalry because we know each other so well.
“But it’s going to be a battle. Everyone wants to get the upper hand on each other.
“I would be very good friends with Diarmuid Byrnes from Limerick and I might be marking him on the day.
“There will be no friendly antics when we get out on the field together. But afterwards we will shake hands.”
That showdown between the in-form duo Duggan and Byrnes will be worth the price of admission alone. Two powerful men who have both been hurling up a storm so far this year.
Duggan was Clare’s their match-winner against Tipperary on Sunday, scoring two late points to add to the 13 frees he’d nailed earlier in the match, and is in the form of his life right now.
“I don’t know about that,” said Duggan modestly. “I have been lucky enough to get on the end of a few scores. But, sure anyone else could have been hitting them frees and taking them scores.
“I am just lucky enough to be in a position to get them. I have a lot more to prove now over the next few games. Hopefully I will just stay training and drive on.
“In fairness every lad out there that we have for Clare, the ability they have is scandalous. Niall Deasy is one of the subs in our team and I honestly think he is two or three times better than me.
“It just shows that we have the bench. If one of us gets injured other players can come in.”
To go with their undoubted ability, Clare now have serious momentum after their stirring victory over Tipperary.
To win it in the way they did having been eight points down in the first half and still four in arrears with five minutes of normal time remaining will have done wonders for their confidence.
“We might be sore after games and it might take a while to recover, but I'm sure all the spectators are loving it,” said Duggan.
“Even any of the games that I've been looking at, Jesus, I've been loving them, they've been unreal.
“The entertainment in hurling these days, having an eight-point victory doesn't mean much. You can still come back into it.
“It just shows that you should never give in. If you're down eight points or ten points you just stay going and you never know what could happen.
“In general we haven't panicked in any of the games. We try to stay as cool as you can. We know that we're good enough to create the opportunities to get the scores.
“Some days they don't just work out, but in general if you just stay cool you'll get the result at the end of the day.”
They couldn’t have scripted a better conclusion to the round-robin phase of the Munster Championship than a match at home in their fortress of Cusack Park against arguably their greatest rivals.
Duggan is confident that the Clare supporters will ensure their opponents are greeted with a red-hot atmosphere.
“In fairness we were very lucky with the lay-out we got for the Championship. It suited us to get Limerick at home in the Park and get everyone out.
“Like, in fairness, I'd say ye all noticed today the Clare crowd that was there (against Tipperary). It's been a long time coming to get that Clare crowd down along. In fairness it helped us out hugely.
“The 16th man, we've been missing that for the past few years. Having the Clare fans there really helps us drive it on.
“Hopefully now we'll have a sell-out in the Park for a Munster semi-final and hopefully we get the win that gets us into a Munster Final.”