Parentage rule helping to drive Banner forward
Published 10/06/2015 | 02:30
It can be a dangerous game, blurring the lines that define GAA identities.
It hasn't always worked either but Clare football has used the parentage rule to their benefit of late.
It's not something that sits easy with everyone. Upsetting the dynamic of a group is a occupational hazard in such scenarios and current manager Colm Collins is keenly aware that sometimes parachuting a talented 'outsider' into a group can do more harm than good.
Like some of his predecessors, Collins has looked at a handful of players who qualify for the Banner since taking charge. But he insists, the selection process has been careful.
Some outsiders fall away for a variety of reasons, not least the levels of commitment and travel involved.
But Collins finds that those left standing tend to be worth the risk.
Heading into Sunday's Munster SFC semi-final clash with Cork in Páirc Uí Rinn, Collins has two 'outsiders' on his panel but, he says, there's no doubting the Clare bona fides of Shane McGrath and Pat Burke.
"Pat's father Pat played for Clare and his mother is from here too," he explains. "I think he spent some time here when he was a child. Shane McGrath's father John was one of the best footballers ever to play for Clare, he was on the Clare team of the century. So they are steeped in connections to the county.
"You could it to extreme levels and call in people with dubious links to Clare but that's not the case here. The pedigree is there. They are as Clare as anyone I know."
Thomas Davis club man McGrath has long been regarded as one of the best footballers on the club circuit in Dublin and he was one of Clare's leading lights as they pushed Kerry hard for a period last year.
Burke is a more recent convert, joining the panel this year, but there's no doubting his talent.
As a teenager, he was heavily courted by West Ham and had a stint in the League of Ireland before concentrating completely on football where he played for Dublin and helped Kilmacud Crokes to an All-Ireland club title.
"Pat has fitted right in. He's very popular with the lads and he brings great experience to us," Collins says.
Burke found the net four times during their Division 3 league campaign and he'll be crucial for the trip to Páirc Uí Rinn.
However, McGrath is set to miss out and he is one of 11 players that the Banner have to plan without.
Among those who will sit out the trip to Leeside are Collins' son Podge, David Tubridy and Enda Coughlan.
"There's a good spread of injuries," he continues. "If it was all the same type of injury you'd go to yourself, 'I must be doing something very wrong here' but that's not the case. We've been unlucky. We lost two players when there was a round of hurling championship played here. But that's what happens in sport, you just have to move on. We have a fantastic panel of 36 that have trained hard all year."
It's a frustrating setback for a side who have showed some real signs of improvement. After league promotion last year, they led Kerry at the halfway point in the Munster Championship.
However, just one of that forward line are fit to start against Cork on Sunday. Still Collins is keeping the good side out.
"Look, we have a panel. This will open the door for someone else to come along and stake their claim.
"We have pretty good cover. We learned a lot in Division 3. Teams were a lot better prepared and a lot more streetwise so that has brought us on."
Cork will be another big step up. Collins dismisses any notion that they could be vulnerable after the shellacking they took from Dublin in the league final. They are still, he explains, among the best teams around.
"I don't really buy that," Collins says, when asked if Brian Cuthbert's side could be low on confidence.
"Colm O'Neill is as fine a footballer as there is in the country. Brian Hurley beside him is a very good forward. For a county like Cork, they are always going to be able to put a fine team on the pitch. At one stage they were beating all before them in the league. They lost to Dublin but there's no insult in losing to a team like that."
The extent of their injuries make the task a difficult one but it's one they are ready for.
"We've done plenty of work. The lads have been looking forward to it.
"I think we are ready to go out and give a good performance."