All about the numbers for Laois veteran Clancy asretirement looms on horizon
PADRAIG Clancy is playing a numbers game tonight for Laois in the All-Ireland Round 3 qualifier clash with Leitrim at Carrick-on-Shannon.
These are the digits that Clancy might include in a Euromillions Quick-Pick if Laois manage to emerge with a victory:
1 -- the first time in his career that he will play at the home of Leitrim GAA.
13 -- the number of years Clancy has been playing senior football with Laois.
32 -- his age.
50 -- tonight's match brings Clancy to the half-century of senior appearances for the O'Moore County.
The Timahoe clubman is well versed in the adding and subtracting of figures in his day job as a car salesman at Joe Mallon Motors in Portlaoise, and he appreciates the significance of the 49 appearances he has totalled for Laois since his debut in 1999.
Mind you, he was afraid he wouldn't be around for match number 50 after being booked just four minutes into last week's clash with Monaghan.
Clancy holds his hands up and admits that referee Dave Coldrick was right to book him, but it meant he had to watch his step from then to the end of the game.
"Sometimes challenges can set tone for a game very early, but probably the way I did it deserved a yellow card," he concedes.
"I had to tread very carefully. I didn't want to be going into any mad tackles after that.
"I was conscious of the booking, and thought if I got another one, maybe the game could hinge on it.
"It's funny really. Coming out after half-time I had a word with David and I had a bit of a joke with him.
"I'm 32 now and I was thinking, 'if we're beaten I don't want to be sent off' and I actually said to him 'don't send me off. I don't want to be retiring being sent off'.
"In fairness, Dave is a good referee. He'll be talking away to you. If you're on a fine line he'll tell you. He said to me, 'no, you're grand'.
"He's the kind of referee that will talk to you. Josie Deegan down here is a good inter-county referee as well. He'll talk to you as well. It always helps."
As events transpired, the experience gained over the last 13 years stood to Clancy as he played a key role in Laois battling their way past Monaghan in a performance that drew high praise from manager Justin McNulty.
In Clancy's opinion, this was a landmark display from the team.
"I'd nearly go so far as to say it was probably Laois' best performance in four years. It was built on hard work. As regards leading in to what we did, I've always thought that if we get our dander up we can put it up to anyone," he says.
"It's nice because, last week, I was 49 times playing for Laois and this week I'll get my 50th championship match. It's a milestone I set for myself, but the most pleasing aspect against Monaghan was what it meant to everyone involved.
"We've taken a lot of stick for the last few years. Monaghan are a good side, and we did well. We just have to try and replicate that again."
On the possibility of retirement, despite his jest with Coldrick, Clancy replies: "I haven't thought about it. I'm coming to the age now where it's hard to keep up with the lads who are 22, 23.
"It's a young man's game, and I treat every game now as if it's my last."
Carrick-on-Shannon represents new horizons for Laois and Clancy, but there is no question of the Leinster side going to Leitrim with notions of grandeur.
It's a sobering thought that Laois have not won two qualifiers in a row since 2006, the year they beat Tyrone, Meath and Offaly in the back-door series before losing the All-Ireland quarter-final to Mayo after a replay.
"Going up to Leitrim will be tough. I've never played up there, but from the reports I've been hearing it's not an easy place to go to," says Clancy.
"We're treating Leitrim as we did Monaghan. We have the utmost respect for them. They're on a high after beating Wicklow and getting their first win in the qualifiers.
"We won't be cocky going up there. We've nothing to be cocky about, we've been on the end of a few beatings the last couple of years.
"Leitrim wouldn't be quaking in their boots pulling us out of the draw. They would have been delighted as well, no point in saying they wouldn't be. So they will be confident enough in front of their own crowd that they'll give a good performance."