‘This is it for Clare’ – Tommy Guilfoyle says it’s time for Banner to kick down the door against Kilkenny

It’s now or never for the current Clare crop under Brian Lohan with All-Ireland SHC semi-final victory over Kilkenny a necessity for their legacy, according to former Banner player Tommy Guilfoyle.

Clare face a repeat clash with the Cats in the last four on July 6 having lost to them at that stage in successive seasons – by 12 points in 2022 before being edged out by three last year.

Lohan’s side did loosen the Kilkenny ‘monkey on their backs’ when defeating them in this year’s Division 1 league final, though, and Guilfoyle reckons it is non-negotiable that they finally get over the line this time around.

“The destiny of this Clare team and how it will be defined is on the line against Kilkenny in a fortnight,” Guilfoyle told ourgame.ie.

“Because if they lose three Munster finals and three All-Ireland semi-finals, it’s tough going for the supporters, never mind the management and the players. So by hook or by crook, Clare need to win this All-Ireland semi-final.

“It needs to be taken by the scruff of the neck. This is it for Clare. We’ve been pushing in the door for the last number of years, it’s time to kick down that door now.”

Guilfoyle insists that Clare must “front up and go man-to-man” while “concentrating on our own team and our own style of play rather than getting caught up trying to counteract Kilkenny” – that comes 12 months after they surprisingly played a sweeper in the opening half before abandoning it to good success after the break.

The Feakle clubman feels that they left “lots of room for improvement” in their All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Wexford last Saturday when the pressure was on the Banner to bounce back from their third straight Munster final reversal to an all-conquering Limerick side.

“If you lose three Munster finals, I suppose patience becomes a bit short. Then the management go under the microscope, should they have done this, could they have done that?” Guilfoyle added.

“There’s lots of people out there with opinions but our opinions don’t count. I think they were under big pressure but after losing the last two Munster finals, I would have been less worried about them from a physical point of view.

“I don’t think we were as physically drained after this year’s Munster final as we were after the last two. The question mark for me was mentally, how would they recover?

“We’ve recovered from knocks and losses to Limerick before but there’s only a certain amount of times you can do that and it catches up to you. They had a week off which probably freshened up things.

“It probably let management and players have a think about their own performances and they came back and got the job done, albeit not too impressively with lots of room for improvement.”

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