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NHL Preview: 35 years since league title came to Clare

It’s been all of 35 years since Clare won the last of the county’s three National Hurling League titles.

In 1978, a 3-10 to 1-10 victory over Kilkenny meant Clare retained the title they won when beating the same opposition, 2-8 to 0-9, a year earlier.

The teams also met in the 1976 final when a draw resulted, 2-10 for Clare to 0-16. The replay took place six weeks later and Kilkenny were comprehensive winners, 6-14 to 1-14.

In the mid-’70s, under the management of Fr Harry Bohan, Clare enjoyed huge success in the league and came within a whisker of winning the provincial championship title. Dr Daly Park in Tulla was the venue for the team’s home games and they went a number of years without defeat at the East Clare grounds.

The 1977 success came 31 years after the county’s first win. In 1946, Clare won the title for the first time when they overcame Dublin. The sides played a 1-6 each draw before Clare were victorious in the replay, 2-10 to 2-5.

The last Clare team to win the league title lined-out as follows: Seamus Durack (Feakle); Jackie O’Gorman (Cratloe), Jim Power (Tulla), Johnnie McMahon (Newmarket); Ger Loughnane (Feakle), Sean Hehir (O’Callaghans Mills), Sean Stack (Sixmilebridge, captain); Mick Moroney (Crusheen), John Callinan (Clarecastle); Jimmy McNamara (Newmarket), Noel Casey (Sixmilebridge), Colm Honan (Clonlara); Pat O’Connor (Tubber), Martin Mc-Keogh (O’Callaghan’s Mills), Enda O’Connor (Tubber).

Newmarket’s Jimmy McNamara captained the 1977 winning side.

Darach Honan and Patrick O’Connor from the current panel are sons of Colm Honan and Pat O’Connor who played in both ’77 and ’78 winning teams.

Despite the back-to-back league successes, Clare suffered back-to-back Munster final defeats to Cork, who won three Munster and All-Ireland titles in succession.

In 1977, four Clare players won four All-Stars, Seamus Durack, Johnnie McMahon (he was also on the ’76 team), Ger Loughnane, the county’s first All-Star in 1974, and Mick Moroney. A year later, they had three on the All-stars team, Durack, Noel Casey and Colm Honan.

Since their last success in the competition, Clare has appeared in a few finals. They contested the 1995 final but Kilkenny emerged as 2-12 to 0-9 winners. It was after that game the then manager, Ger Loughnane, predicted Clare would win the Munster championship. And what Clare hurling follower will ever forget the summer of ’95 as Clare followed their first Munster win since 1932 with All-Ireland success after 81 years.


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