PRIDE in his home parish prompted one Cratloe GAA veteran to travel more than 12,000 miles to witness captain Barry Duggan lift the Canon Hamilton Trophy aloft in rain-soaked Cusack Park last Sunday week.
Tom McMahon emigrated to Melbourne, Australia on February 13, 1958 yet he never forgot his roots and was determined to support his beloved Cratloe against favourites and reigning title-holders Clonlara in the recent senior hurling final.
Unlike some pundits who felt Clonlara’s edge in experience and the availability of five of Clare’s All-Ireland U-21 winning side would steer them to victory, Mr McMahon never contemplated defeat in the lead up to the game.
He had two reasons to celebrate when Pádraig Chaplin came off the bench in the last quarter to snatch a sensational two-point win with a last-gasp goal in injury time.
In addition to ensuring Cratloe registered a surprise win to claim a first senior title, Mr McMahon was delighted that one of the Chaplins scored the decisive goal.
The 70 year-old former fireman stays in the Chaplin household in Brickhill, Cratloe, anytime he comes home.
Danny and Patricia Chaplin have always proved to be very hospitable hosts while Nancy Chaplin organises all his trips to South-East Clare and simply tells him when to pack his bags.
Danny’s nephew, Pádraig, certainly lived up to the super sub tag when he scored the winning goal in the hurling decider.
As a passionate Cratloe GAA supporter, Tom didn’t forget the intermediate footballers and made the long trip to Terryglass in North Tipperary on Sunday to watch the South-East Clare men register a well-deserved six-point victory over Limerick champions St Patrick’s.
Tom was delighted when a contingent from the Cratloe GAA club came over to Melbourne on a trip in 1997.
After getting married to Nora, from Melbourne, in 1960, the couple had four children, twins Geraldine and Philomena, Eileen and Thomas.
A regular visitor to South-East Clare, Mr McMahon made the long journey home for the All-Ireland senior hurling finals in 1995 and ’97.
“It was great to see Clare winning the All-Ireland final after such a long wait. Winning the county senior hurling final was a dream come true for Cratloe.
“I was thrilled that I made the trip to Clare for the game. It was a great sporting occasion and a brilliant way to win a match with a goal in injury time.
“I got a great thrill from seeing Pádraig Chaplin send his shot to the back of the net. Cratloe have been knocking on the door for success for a few years. I never let the thought of defeat enter my head before the game.
“This bunch of Cratloe players have got it all – fitness, commitment, dedication and skill. When you look at the new Sportlann complex with all its facilities, you have to see it to really believe it. The off-field development has been very impressive,” he said.