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Working his way through the ranks

  ANY coach who wants an example of textbook football should watch a video of the 2006 Clare U-21 final when Kilmurry-Ibrickane clinched their fourth title in a row with a scintillating performance in the opening 20 minutes.The young men in red and green blitzed Doonbeg in Cooraclare, notching 1-8 without reply, a display that would not have been out of place from any county senior champions.Although a spirited Doonbeg outfit showed great character to reduce the deficit to just four points in the 40th minute when other teams would have totally collapsed, Dermot Coughlan’s young charges were still able to re-ignite their tremendous teamwork and clinical finishing to run out convincing 1-13 to 1-6 winners.Manager, Dermot Coughlan feels this was the best display by Kilmurry from their six U-21 titles at this level against a strong Doonbeg outfit.Coughlan noted the club’s outstanding run at underage level provided a great foundation for senior success and should provide players with enough …

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For blessed is she amongst men…

  INHIBITIONS went out the window a long time ago for Michelle Downes. The Doonaha woman has grown accustomed to invading the privacy of a male-dominated dressing room. Now she doesn’t bat an eyelid, it’s a simple case of getting on with the job and her job is that of sports rehabilitator. But during that time, she has been exposed to several pranks. She takes the banter in her stride and isn’t slow to hit back. It helps break the ice and build up a rapport with the players.“When I was studying in Carlow Institute of Technology, part of our education involved placement with boys’ teams. The course was sports-related and being in a team setting was a big part of it. Working in a dressing room full of males was hard at the beginning but I’ve got used to that scene now,” Michelle admits. “I’m with the Kilmurry teams for the past two years but at the start, I …

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Just 56 years waiting

NEXT week will be the first time in 56 years that a football team from Clare will take to the field for an All-Ireland final at minor, U-21 or senior level.In September 1953, a promising Clare minor team imploded when they faced Mayo in Croke Park, going down by 2-11 to 1-6 and it’s not a fond memory for Michael Garry who was in goal.The week after Kilmurry-Ibrickane stunned Portlaoise, he appealed to the All-Ireland finalists to give it everything, through the letter page of The Clare Champion. “I was part of the Clare minor team beaten by Mayo in the 1953 All-Ireland final and I’m still hurting from that experience. I plead with all the Kilmurry-Ibrickane players to give it their absolute best shot so that they can live happily with the memory for the rest of their lives,” he wrote.Michael now lives in Australia but grew up in Ennis and while he said the ’53 final was disappointing, …

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The seniors of the future

  IN any discussion about Kilmurry-Ibrickane football, the name of Patrick Murrihy will come into the conversation. The majority of the current panel will claim it was Patrick, who first coached them. Currently chairman of the Kilmurry-Ibrickane minor club, he continues to be one of the leading figures in driving the club’s coaching programme.Speaking to Patrick ahead of next week’s All-Ireland final, he maintains that the coaching policy operated by the club and the securing of their own headquarters have played vital roles in the club’s progress to the position where they are now one step away from being crowned All-Ireland senior champions.“Around the end of the ’80s and early ’90s, the club purchased land and with the field being developed, it was attractive for young fellas to be playing. It was the first time that we ever had a home of our own. The coaching was a bit alien to all of us but we said if we were …

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Limerick blow Clare away in final quarter

FOUR points up 15 minutes into the second half, it seemed that Clare had the measure of the Limerick U-21 footballers in Cooraclare on Wednesday night. The visitors, however, managed to outscore Clare 1-5 to 0-1 in the closing quarter and reserve a place against Tipperary in the Munster semi-final on March 18.Cormac Joyce Power’s goal eight minutes from full-time was the game’s key score and it helped establish a 1-8 to 0-9 lead for the winners, who should have had home advantage, but the game was switched from the Gaelic Grounds due to ice on the Ennis Road pitch.Wolfe Tones’ Gary Leahy kicked four first-half points for Clare, two from frees, to help the home county into a 0-6 to 0-2 interval lead. Podge McMahon kicked the remaining points and it looked as if Clare carried more attacking threat than Limerick.Shane Brennan, who excelled along with Seán Collins, kicked the opening point of the second half to extend Clare’s …

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Irish on form for Cheltenham

SHORTLY after 1.30pm next Tuesday a deafening roar from the packed stands at Prestbury Park will signal the start of the 2010 Cheltenham Festival.This four-day bonanza of national hunt racing sets pulses racing like no other fixture on the racing calendar and next week’s meeting hosts the prospects of some intriguing clashes. The anticipated duel between stable companions Kauto Star and Denman, first and second favourites on all bookmakers’ boards for the totesport Gold Cup, is set to be one of the races of the season. 2007 Gold Cup winner, Kauto Star, became the first horse ever to regain the crown when defeating reigning champion Denman last year and Clive Smith’s star chaser looks set to go off odds-on March 19 to land his third Gold Cup. Ruby Walsh, who has won the leading rider award at the festival for the last two years, rides the Gold Cup market-leader and the Kildare jockey again goes into the meeting with an …

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Frost elected as Munster Council’s vice-chairman

IT was a case of third time lucky for Robert Frost at the Munster GAA convention last Friday in Listowel. The O’Callaghan’s Mills man recorded a comfortable 34 to 18 win over Tipperary’s John Costigan in a contest for the post of vice-chairman.Frost replaces Kerry’s Seán Walsh, who became the council chairman in succession to Jimmy O’Gorman (Waterford), whose three-year term ended at the convention.Frost served in a variety of positions in his club including those of secretary and treasurer. He played hurling at all grades for the club. He is a former chairman of the Clare hurling board and vice-chairman of the county board and for the past number of years, he has been one of the Clare delegates to the provincial body.He is currently chairman of the provincial body’s coaching and games’ committee. Speaking this week after his election, he said that one of the areas he will be looking at is the urban and rural situation. “Rural …

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Lucky Clare remain unbeaten

Phew. If Clare senior football manager Micheál McDermott had been captain of the Titanic 98 years ago, the iceberg would have melted long before it interfered with the liner.  Hopefully, Clare’s luck will hold but they can’t rely on the chance that it will. Unless they improve radically, in virtually every sector of the field and on the sideline, they will receive an unmerciful hammering some day soon. Insipid in the first half and trailing 0-9 to 0-5 after 35 minutes, Clare didn’t improve thereafter. Their luck did though and two fortunate goals derailed Leitrim. The Connacht side’s goalkeeper, Gareth Phelan, was unable to field a couple of high balls, driven in by Barry Toner and Chris Dunning respectively and directly contributed to Leitrim’s defeat. They have now lost three of their first four games and have virtually no chance of achieving promotion. If Clare win in Ruislip next Sunday, they will have full points from four matches, with five …

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