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There’s strength on the bench

INADVERENTLY, Davy Fitzgerald drew unhelpful attention upon himself and Clare by not attending the All-Ireland press night in Ennis. In a year in which most of his important decisions, relating to what happens on the field, have been vindicated, that was a poor call by the Clare manager and his advisers. The only way Clare will avoid being rounded upon by the national media is if they win on Sunday. While Fitzgerald might justifiably feel he is entitled to make up his own mind if he attends these events or not, in effect he turned a negative focus on Clare by staying away. In contrast, Jimmy Barry Murphy was available to all sections of the media at the Cork press day in Pairc Uí Rínn. That level of co-operation guarantees nothing and will mean nothing if Cork lose but it does suggest the Cork manager is more comfortable dealing with an All-Ireland final build up. By not making a fuss …

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Dan the Man recalls Davy’s Waterford reign

IT’S a first senior final for every Clare player but as well as playing, manager Davy Fitzgerald has managed a team in an All-Ireland before. It’s presumably something he does not look back on fondly; Waterford met a Kilkenny side at the peak of their powers and were beaten 3-30 to 1-13. Dan Shanahan was involved and while he doesn’t look back on the game fondly either, he doesn’t lay the blame with the management of the time. “We’d a lot of work done and to the credit of Davy and the selectors, they took a lot of limelight off us. Everything was organised but Kilkenny were very good that day,” he says. “When you get to the All-Ireland, you have to go and get measured for suits and things like that and we got it done fairly quick. It was just on the day that our tactics didn’t work.” On the day, some Waterford players made rather unsuccessful early …

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Fond memories of All-Ireland celebrations

ONE iconic photograph on the top floor of the national GAA museum illustrates the scenes of sheer jubilation after the 1995 All-Ireland hurling final. Despite being placed in the middle of a line of GAA legends, it is still eye-catching even for non-GAA diehards who are interested in photography. It captures part of Anthony Daly’s hand hoisting the Liam McCarthy Cup aloft in the air with O’Brien’s Tower in the background, the day after the Banner’s thrilling victory over Offaly. Seán McMahon remembers standing behind the Clare captain when this photograph was being taken. He recalls Clare Champion photographer John Kelly also asked Anthony Daly to stand for a photograph on the way back from Shannon Airport to Ennis in an open-topped bus. Speaking to GAA supporters as he conducted the GAA legends tour series in Croke Park recently, the Doora-Barefield clubman estimates 40,000 Clare supporters gave the team a rapturous welcome in Ennis. “It was a brilliant time for …

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Statue of Clare hurling manager under construction

MC Banner, the singer with MC Banner and the Killaloolas, whose popular song The Banner’s Back Again, is fast becoming a big hit with Clare fans, has taken his devotion to the Clare team and their manager to new levels. For the past two weeks, he has been working on a statue of Clare manager, Davy Fitzgerald. He will erect the statue on his front lawn in time for Sunday week’s All-Ireland Final. MC is a potter by trade and is fusing clay and concrete to create his lifesize Fitzgerald. “I think it’s going to look a lot like Davy but my wife doesn’t think so. She’s not mad about the idea at all at all but she understands my devotion to the Clare team. I checked with all the neighbours and they have no problem with it. One of them is knitting a jumper for it for the winter,” MC Banner revealed. MC will rig an MP3 player to …

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All-Ireland big screen dilemma

A PLAN to show the All-Ireland hurling final on a big screen in Ennis has resulted in mixed reactions. It has been suggested the idea could negatively impact on pubs, hotels and restaurants that would otherwise benefit from the day, although members of the business community do not appear to see this as a material issue, according to town manager Ger Dollard. “The views of all members of Ennis Town Council have also been canvassed and there is unanimous support for such a proposal if it is financially and logistically feasible and would receive public support,” he said. Ennis Chamber CEO Rita McInerney said the overall consensus among members is the benefits of providing a big screen as part of a major event would outweigh any possible negatives. The town council is to make a decision later this week if it will organise a large event at a town centre venue and provide a big screen for supporters who are …

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Sean’s the leader of the band

AS the scramble for All-Ireland hurling final tickets continues, 16-year-old, Sean McCaw has no worries about gaining admission to Croke Park for the big game. The Dublin-born teenager will have a special role in the drama of the occasion. A member of the Artane Boys Band, Sean will make his debut as the drum major and will lead the famous band in the traditional parade and playing of the National Anthem. Living in Artane, Sean has been with the band since he was eight and joined the band proper at the age of 12. “Sean usually plays the trumpet but the drum major is on a trip to Lourdes and Sean has been given that role for the All-Ireland final,” his father Jimmy, who hails from Ennistymon, told The Clare Champion. Jimmy is a member of the teaching staff at Brunswick Street in Dublin. The McCaw name is synonymous with Ennistymon where Sean’s grandfather, the late Joe, spent many years …

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Clare fans are expected to turnout in large numbers to welcome the Clare hurlers home watch Clare V Galway in the Under 21 Semi Final.Pic Arthur Ellis.

O’Connell goal put Clare in driving seat

Clare 1-16 Galway 0-7 A BLISTERING start to the second half, which saw them score 1-5 in 10 minutes, paved the way for a comfortable Clare victory over Galway in the All-Ireland U-21 hurling semi-final at Thurles last Saturday evening. Starting the second half just two points adrift, Galway held high hopes of dethroning the All-Ireland champions but Clare stepped up the pace and by the midpoint of the half, the holders were well on the way to a second successive final. The all-important goal came three minutes after the resumption and was scored by Cathal O’Connell, one of the stars in this latest victory for Clare. Indeed, such was Clare’s dominance in the second half that with 10 minutes remaining, they were able to call ashore senior star Podge Collins and then replaced two more members of the senior team, Colm Galvin and Tony Kelly, ahead of the upcoming senior final clash with Cork. An injury to Aaron Cunningham …

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Clares Alan O'Neill battles with Galways Jonathan Glynn in The Under 21 Hurling Semi Final at Semple Stadium Thurles on saturday Evening.Pic Arthur Ellis.

‘Phenomenal’ second-half performance

Clare’s joint manager Gerry O’Connor described the second-half performance by Clare as “phenomenal”. “The way it transpired was exactly as we had predicted. We reckoned the first half would be really low scoring, a real and out and out dog fight and that’s exactly how it turned out,” he said. According to the Éire Óg clubman, “Donal [Moloney] said to the lads at half-time, in the most positive way possible, that they needed to move up a gear. The second-half performance was just phenomenal, the running off the ball, the support play. Alan O’Neill at centre-back was awesome, to be fair to him. Peter Duggan started winning puck-outs but Tots’ [Cathal O’Connell] movement off Peter Duggan was phenomenal.” “We have been on the road with these guys for four years now. That was the 2010 minor team. We have such a passionate affinity with them that it’s unbelievable. We had a team meeting with the guys on Monday before this …

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