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Domhnall O'Donovan saved the day for Clonlara with a last minute point at Cusack Park on Saturday. Photograph by John Kelly

“I was in shock” -O’Donovan

WHEN James McGrath sounded the final whistle, Clare achieved something that didn’t look likely when they lost to Cork in the Munster Championship or when they stumbled past Wexford in the qualifiers.

Just before getting on the bus to leave Croke Park, Domhnall O’Donovan acknowledged earlier in the year, he didn’t think Clare were real contenders.

“At the start of the year, if you’d told me I’d be here, I wouldn’t have believed you. Then, as we built momentum, we were thinking ‘we could actually do this’. Tipperary were knocked out and Kilkenny were knocked out and it was a much more even championship and we realised anyone could beat anyone, so we realised we could do it, if we believed.”

Domhnall O'Donovan of Clonlara displays the cup at the Clare U-21 and Senior All-Ireland Champion hurlers homecoming in Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly
Domhnall O’Donovan of Clonlara displays the cup at the Clare U-21 and Senior All-Ireland Champion hurlers homecoming in Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly

The Clonlara corner-back said he was in a state of shock when the game ended.

“I couldn’t believe it, I was in shock. I’m delighted that getting that point in the draw actually meant something; if we lost it would have meant nothing. It’s great that we came out and showed what we can do. Our forwards are just amazing. This time, unlike in the Munster Championship, they took all their opportunities and they got five goals. We always created opportunities but, this time, we took them all.”

Based in Dublin, there wouldn’t be too long to celebrate.
“I’ve only two days off next week because of how busy work is at the moment! I’ll be back in work on Wednesday. I was saying that it’s not that bad going back in if you win but if we lost, I wouldn’t be much use inside in work!”

He works as a business analyst for Kerry Group and has been zipping up and down the M7 all year, in the hopes of a day like Saturday. “I’ve managed to get time to go to training sometimes, but sometimes I can’t and I have to train in Dublin. It was tough going down for training in January and February but in August and September, it’s no problem at all!”

Darach Honan’s goal sealed it. O’Donovan said he was relieved when he saw the ball had broken to Seadna Morey. “Thank God Darach got that score in the end, it put us at ease, because a goal up is a dangerous lead. They got a few frees at the end that Anthony Nash was driving down into our full-back line. We were under a lot of pressure. I remember the ball broke to Seadna Morey, he’s an extremely fit guy and when I saw the ball in his hand I was relieved because I knew nobody was going to catch him.”

He said he had been cleaned in training by Shane O’Donnell and knew the youngster could cause mayhem for Cork. “It’s very similar to Walter Walsh last year, isn’t it? He’s amazing, I have awful trouble in training because I have to mark either himself or Podge Collins a lot. They keep me on my toes quite a bit! Earlier in the year, I didn’t know Shane O’Donnell too well and he got three goals off me in training. I wasn’t too happy and I told him before the game, ‘Remember what you did to me in training, you’re well able’.”


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