Clarke to give Mourne one more year before making Aussie call
MARTIN Clarke has committed himself to Down next year but is giving no guarantees beyond that as he contemplates a return to Australian Rules.
"I will definitely be playing Gaelic football in 2011," he said. "In 2012 I might still be at it or I might be in Australia. I'd like to leave my options open. It wouldn't feel right to go back to Australia now because I'm really enjoying myself with Down. I'm fortunate to have a few opportunities but right now I don't know if I will be going back to Australia."
It's news that will be welcomed by the county's supporters, who were hugely enthused by this year's All-Ireland adventure. So too was Clarke, although he concedes that there were days he felt he could have done better.
"There were very few days in the league or championship where I was thinking, 'that was a great game, I was happy with that.' Everyone can improve all the time. It was frustrating at times not being able to do all I wanted to do.
"I'm working on it and it's great to have a manager like James (McCartan), who is so honest in everything he does," he said.
Clarke's Australian experience has been very good for him but he insists that the talent level among Gaelic footballers is just as high.
"I think people get carried away with the Australians. They like putting out this picture that they are the biggest, strongest around. They really like themselves in that respect and they like talking about how strong they are. In fact, our lads are just as strong. I never saw any player as quick, strong and fit as Danny Hughes or Ambrose Rodgers in Australia," he said.
"That's only within Down and when you come on trips like this you see boys like Bernard Brogan and Graham Canty, there is no difference between them and the Australian boys."
Clarke will be on the 2010 All Stars team that takes on their 2009 counterparts in the Royal Selangor Club, Kuala Lumpur, this evening. It's the first trip to Malaysia for the Vodafone-sponsored All Stars, who have previously visited Hong Kong and Singapore on the Far Eastern legs of the tour.