Miltown manager David O’Brien is not entertaining any talks of his own house being one of the divided ones ahead of Sunday’s Clare senior football final.
His mother is originally from the parish of Kilmurry Ibrickane but he is confident as to where the loyalties will lie come Sunday afternoon.
“It is pretty much hoping that Miltown will pull it off and I think we have converted my mother a long time ago” he laughed.
“I think the fact that there are so many connections on both sides that everyone is a little bit on eggshells and trying to avoid talking about it at the moment. The hype is there and it is always going to be there because you have good sides who are really well supported and they just happen to be beside each other with massive connections between the two groups of players. All that will create a great environment on the day and it will be about managing it to make sure that you don’t get too sidetracked with it. You can’t escape it entirely but it will be about just minimising it as much as you can”.
It is not O’Brien’s first spin of the wheel with his native club as he guided them out of the intermediate ranks in 2013 before reaching a senior quarter-final the following year. He admits Sunday’s opponents have been setting the standards for others to reach in recent times.
“We have admired Kilmurry over the last 20 years and they have brought Clare football to heights that hadn’t been seen before. Every year you set out you are trying to reach a new level and it was Kilmurry who set those standards and it is no different this year or any other year. You know that if you drop your level, they will be there. We are hoping that we are now in a place that other teams know if they drop their level, we will be there. There is a massive respect between the players and they would meet at various county squads and even the teams at the school in Spanish Point have benefited greatly from having the two sides under the roof there over the years. It is a brilliant rivalry but there really is a massive respect too. It is a game that everyone will want to win but there are a lot more important things going on in different households in both areas over the next few weeks. A game will take everyone’s minds off it for a few hours but we will all be back to our everyday routines after that. It is a release from everyday life for a lot of people and it is something in our area that becomes everyday life for a lot of people and it is great” he said.
Miltown are bidding to win back to back titles for the first time since 1906 and are playing in successive finals for the first time in 28 years. They have already put the Cusack Cup safely in Hennessey Park and O’Brien is confident they are going in the right direction.
He said: “We are just happy to be here and we just took every game as we went. We haven’t done everything we wanted to do in every game but we have done a lot of what we wanted to do. The standard in Clare is so even which means you will never dominate a full game but you just hope that when it is your period of dominance that you will get enough scores to eventually see you over the line. That is probably something that has happened for us this year in that we have outscored the opposition in our ten minutes on top as opposed to what they managed when they were on top and that is what is has been. Kilmurry have been something similar and we saw that against Cratloe where both teams had their periods of dominance but Kilmurry minimised the damage Cratloe did while they had the ball and that was the difference. You can get too bogged down in tactics and matchups and all that and while they are important, the game is going to be there for someone to go and win at some stage. If you get too preoccupied with not losing, you can nearly forgot about going to try and win. Both teams have excellent players all over the field and both teams will just want to play. Both teams know who will be marking who because they will have met in Cusack Cup or would have marked each other in county training. There will be some great matchups on both sides and it will be about who can come out on top in their own battles. What you can often see happening in the final is someone will come out of nowhere to do something brilliant and swing it in their favour”.
So would beating their neighbours make it the sweetest one of all?
“Everyone will tell you that it is always sweet to win a county championship and you have to beat someone in the final to do that. It just happens that this year it is Kilmurry and Miltown but right now I don’t think that will make it any sweeter. Both teams are going to try and win it and I am sure whoever falls short will say good luck to the opposition. Someone is going to bring Jack Daly home and it won;t matter how it happens as long as it does happen” said O’Brien.