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Marty Morrissey

’95 All-Ireland, a vivid journey for Marty

TWENTY years ago, September 3, 1995, Marty Morrissey carried out one of the shorter but more dramatic interviews of his career.

With Clare were trailing Offaly in the All-Ireland final, he approached a tightly-wound Ger Loughnane as he came back onto the field for the second half. After some preliminaries, the Mullagh man asked the Feakle man, ‘Do you think you’re going to do it?’ With absolutely certainty and burning intensity Loughnane responded “We’re going to do it”.

Twenty years on, managers never speak to reporters between the throw-in and the final whistle but, at that time, it happened in virtually every live match at half-time. Marty says he’d like to see it coming back.

“I think it’s an awful pity to be honest with you. When there’s hundreds of thousands watching, or millions on All-Ireland final day around the world, every little bit contributes to a unique occasion. It’s something I’d love to see reintroduced, but I have my doubts,” he noted.

Hardly dispassionate
While he was working for the national broadcaster, Marty was hardly a dispassionate interlocutor when he approached Loughnane.
He feels the brief exchange gave an insight into how the Clare team were being managed. “I was asking Ger Loughnane as a professional journalist and broadcaster but I was also asking him as a Clare man. We were all hoping and praying obviously that we would win, so it was a double-edged question on that particular day, both as a broadcaster and as a Clare man. To me, it’s iconic in one way, its Ger Loughnane’s straight-forward talking, which is part of his own personality, he always has done that. He often slagged me afterwards that he gave me a great line; the truth is, he believed it. We kind of got a snapshot of what he was like and what perhaps that dressing room was like on that day in 1995.”

Three years earlier, Marty had really started to make his name as a commentator, when he delivered a breathless commentary on the Clare-Kerry Munster football final and made an immortal remark about cows not being milked in the Banner County the following week.

However, in ’95, he was still in the early stages of his own career. “The day of the match, I was only in my third or fourth year in RTÉ and suddenly my own crowd were in Croke Park, which I never expected. I was meeting everybody from home, which was just wonderful. I suppose there was a nervous tension, which there always is even when your own county is not involved but we were experiencing for the first time what it was like for us, as Clare people, to be involved in an All-Ireland final.

“There was a nervousness, a tension, a great buzz, an adrenaline rush from beginning to end. We had that dramatic finish with Eamonn Taaffe’s goal and Anthony Daly’s free and obviously that emotion when we realised we had won the All-Ireland. I remember people trying to get through the gates at the Canal End and I was really concerned but, eventually, we got the officials to open the gates so everyone could get onto the pitch.
“It was an emotional day, full of pride; it was a day you’d never forget.”

Remarkable scenes

When the Clare team came home on the Monday, he travelled with them to Ennis. He says he can remember the scenes as if they happened yesterday.

“There’s a signpost there beside what was the Cusack Stand Bar (in Newmarket) and I don’t know how he did it but this guy was literally perched up on that and, as we passed, all he did was cry. It was just remarkable.”

The Clare All-Ireland win in ’95 was one of the most unexpected ever seen in the hurling championship.

The straight knock-out format at the time made it particularly difficult to even get to Croke Park. Clare hadn’t gone beyond the province since 1932 and, being well beaten in the two previous Munster finals, as well as the ’95 league final, none but the most foolishly optimistic supporters or clairvoyants would have predicted what was coming.

It was a pretty unforgettable year, Marty feels. “None of us were around in 1914, so this was the first. To be alive to see the Clare jersey in Croke Park, to see Liam MacCarthy lifted, Anthony Daly’s famous speech, which is quoted 20 years later. The journey that we had that year – Seanie McMahon’s shoulder injury and Ollie Baker’s goal against Cork; Davy Fitzgerald’s penalty against Limerick and the run back – there were so many aspects to it.
“It’s funny, when I put my mind to it, I can remember most of it, it was that vivid. A fantastic journey.”
The break-through sparked a degree of celebrations throughout the county that are unlikely to be matched again. Marty feels the mood of the county led to more success.

“Ennis won the Information Age Town competition in October. We were in competition with Castlebar, who I believe had a very good entry but we were on a high, there was a belief that we could do anything really as a result, thanks to the hurlers. I’d like to think the footballers in ’92 started it all and the hurlers finished it off to a certain extent. I think that, by the time we came to that competition, we were in a very good place as a people and we believed that we could do anything. Without in any way being arrogant, we were just confident. I think that confidence got us that information age title, which was wonderful for Ennis.”

By Owen Ryan

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