ALL-Ireland winning manager Davy Fitzgerald has revealed that he suffered vicious bullying and taunts while he was at school.
But Fitzgerald, still flush with the success of bringing the Liam MacCarthy Cup back to Clare for the first time in 16 years, said it had helped make him a stronger person in the long run.
Fitzgerald confirmed that it was a "very tough time" in his life as he was regularly targeted on the school bus.
"I suppose, it could have had a very bad effect on me. Luckily, I took it the other way," he said.
"There was a two- or three-year period where I had a lot of lads picking on me, especially on the bus when I was going to school, and coming back from school.
"I remember one evening, getting my shirt pulled off me and they writing all over my body and throwing my shoes out the window.
"It got to a stage (where), instead of taking the bus from Ennis back to Sixmilebridge, I used to take the bus to Shannon and thumb home."
Recounting another painful experience, Fitzgerald said: "The lads I would have gone to school with would play soccer on a Friday.
"They never invited me but they did this Friday, and I thought it was great. When I went in, I got kicked, battered and bruised all over. The only reason they got me in was to have a go at me."
Fitzgerald also said that his son Colm has been "targeted" during local club games, because of who he is.
Colm (16) plays his club hurling with St Joseph's Doora-Barefield and his father admits that opponents have "given it to him about his dad".
"It hasn't always been easy for him – a lot of instances where he has been targeted," he said.
"In one or two matches he played himself recently, it was given to him about his dad.
"And another match or two, in the stand. . . we were playing Laois and he (Colm) was behind me. Two minutes into the game, this supporter stood up and said exactly what he thought of me.
"He (Colm) said: why are they saying that, Dad? You're doing your best."
Fitzgerald replied: "You've got to let that go over your head, boy. There are a lot of good people out there. Don't dwell on them things."
He added: "He's a lovely young fella, a fella I'm really proud of.
"My thing would be, when you're out there playing a game, give it good and hard. You're going to have to take it good and hard. I wouldn't be gone on the other stuff."
Fitzgerald insisted that he doesn't know why some people don't like him.
But despite receiving some "pretty nasty" letters in recent months, he tries not to let criticism bother him.
"I don't know – you'd have to ask them that. I'm just me. You wear your heart on your sleeve. I can't help how I am – my feelings come out. I'm not one of those people who puts on shows for anyone. I am who I am.
"What people think about me any more doesn't bother me. The people close to me, people I live with, my partner Sharon, son Colm, Mam and Dad, people close to me and my team (matter). What people think of me outside that, I can't do anything about. I try to be as nice and courteous to everyone as I possibly can."
Fitzgerald also spoke about how conscious he and his players are of their roles as ambassadors for Clare.
As they made their way home with the Cup, Fitzgerald revealed there were a number of stops along the way.
He said: "We talk a lot at training about how other people are.
"A friend of mine, Olive O'Loughlin, asked me would I go to see a great (Clare) supporter in Dublin, who wasn't well and who hadn't long to go. I wasn't expecting how bad he would be when I arrived at the Mater.
"His last half hour was spent talking about Clare hurling. I was probably only gone out the door 15 minutes and Noel passed away. I remember going back and telling the guys, 'Do you realise what you mean (to people)?'
"Noel was talking about the Tony Kellys, Podge Collins, Brendan Buglers, talking about ye boys with his last breaths, (so) don't be nervous about a game of hurling, go and express yourselves.
"One of the lads (on the way home from Dublin on Sunday) saw this young guy in Cratloe in a wheelchair and wanted to stop the bus.
"And a few of them wanted to call to Carrigoran (House) nursing home on the way back. Everybody is important. To take a bit of time is no harm."