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Martin Mc Mahon.

McMahon feels that Clare are ready to take it up a level

(Peter O’Connell)

A Clare senior footballer since 2008, Martin McMahon has never played in a division above the

basement league. That will change for him and his colleagues on Sunday when Clare play Wexford in

their opening fixture of the division 3 league. The Mullagh man, who teaches at St Munchin’s in

Limerick, was working in Dublin for several years before finding employment in the mid west. Not

having to drive to and from the capital every weekend is something that he appreciates and feels

fresher for it.

“One thing I never really liked was the travelling. In Dublin you were leaving every Friday evening

and heading back every Sunday evening. Then when you were getting close to championship you

were up and down twice during the week. The best thing I find about being down is that you can do

your gym sessions in groups. When I first started in Dublin there was only about two players away. I

got in with one or two clubs but even at that it’s still not the same standard. Whereas at least if

there’s a few of you there you tend to do it,” the diminutive yet hugely effective corner back has


To play inter-county GAA you have no choice; a player simply cannot take on any additional pastimes

or do much else outside of work, train, train and sometimes play.

“It’s getting harder and harder. You train or are in the gym at least five times a week and if you have

to spend six or seven hours in a car, it’s just not constructive. Seamus O’Shea was saying that if Mayo

weren’t competing that he wouldn’t be involved. You only really enjoy it if you’re winning and

thankfully last year we were winning and you could see that you were improving. Every player that’s

involved can see that we are improving and that we are getting better. That’s why you enjoy it. If

you see things going backwards, naturally you’re not going to enjoy it and you’ll see lads pulling

away. But at the moment the way things are going, it’s a very happy camp. I think everyone is

getting on with each other and there’s no real trouble within the camp. That’s what you want. You

want lads that are happy with what they’re doing because that’s when they play their best,”

McMahon noted.

Nobody who has ever seen a ball kicked needs telling that physical fitness is a significant component

in elite level sport. What may pass under the radar is the significance of diet. McMahon says that all

involved with Clare have woken up to this.

“Every player that was there last year has improved on their fitness and body fat tests. That doesn’t

happen over night. Maybe that was a downfall before in that we never really bought into it. Now I

think everyone is buying into it. There is a lot of youth coming through at the moment and it’s great

that they are all coming in and giving it a go. It can only be positive for Clare playing in division 3 is

getting a bit more profile. You need everyone on board. Any player that is good enough to wear the

jersey or be part of a panel is needed. You can even see in the panel games that there is a fair bit of

intensity in the games whereas beforehand, when you were struggling with numbers it was hard to

get that intensity.”

McMahon has also noticed that players are much more accountable in that their every move and

occasional non move is analysed and highlighted. The days of scoring a few points or keeping your

man scoreless and thinking you were the man are dwindling.

“You’d come out of some games thinking you played well but when you go back to the video, you

see that three points came from something that you had missed. Another day a player might be

thinking that he didn’t really get on the ball but maybe the three or four tackles that he put in could

have been vital. The best example we see is when the forward tracks back and tracks all the way

back. He doesn’t touch the ball but that tracking stops a score, where other times a player might say,

‘I kicked five points today, I had a great game.’ There is so much detail now gone into it, you have to

produce the all round performance,” he said.

Clare were guided by their accountability mantra and the “process” for most of last year but not


“Chris De Looze (strength and conditioning coach) is very good at that. He says that we know what

we want to do but we can’t forget about the process. That’s being drilled into us, that to get the win

you have to go through the same process and do the basics which maybe in other years and in one

or two games last year, we forgot. We wanted to go out and play football but we forgot about the

basics. The main game where that happened was the Waterford game in the championship the first

day. We wanted to put on a performance but we forgot about how you put on a performance. We

forgot about the basics of needing to get in for the breaks, tracking the man and not standing up,”

McMahon admitted.

Clare know that to thrive in division 3 they’ll have to up their level from 2014.

“The way we’re looking at it is that what we did in division 4 won’t do this year in division 3. So we

have to up our standards again. After the championship last year we saw that we could compete.

Now it’s just a case of getting the victories. That was the disappointing thing that came out of last

year. We didn’t beat anyone that was ranked above us. That’s what we’re going to look to build on

now. I think all the lads and management have done a lot of work towards improving. I think we’re

ahead of where we were this time last year,” the Kilmurry Ibrickane man believes.

McMahon feels that Clare are approaching a time where they win games that they are capable of

winning, instead of losing games they should win like their league opener against Waterford in 2013.

“The most disappointing thing about our league campaigns before last year was teams that we lost

to, we always felt ‘we should have won that game.’ Now we’re going out playing different teams and

we still have the same expectations. We’re going out to win every game. The one thing that has

been drilled into us since Colm (Collins) got involved is that we have targets to hit. It doesn’t matter

what team you’re playing, if you don’t hit those targets, you’re not going to win. Maybe against a

division 4 team it’s easier to hit those targets but now we have to step up again,” he reiterated.

Gaelic football isn’t the only sport McMahon gives his time to. He has taken to coaching rugby at St

Munchin’s which has elicited a few barbed comments from some of his inter-county team-mates.

“The boys are making off that with a few of the tackles that I have put in over the years, it’s probably

a game close to my heart,” the ultra consistent Clare defender laughed.

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