Saturday 23 June 2018

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Clare's Cleary twins braced for another hectic weekend

Conor Cleary: Busy schedule. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Conor Cleary: Busy schedule. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

There's another busy weekend on the cards for the talented twin brothers Conor and Eoin Cleary from Miltown Malbay.

Conor will play in Saturday's Fitzgibbon Cup final for UL against DCU in Mallow and could be in a action for the Clare hurlers 24 hours later when they travel to Wexford to face former manager Davy Fitzgerald.

Eoin won't be idle either. He'll make the long trip north to face Down in Newry in their NFL Division 2 clash, a game that could go a long way towards deciding whether the Banner will spend the remainder of the league campaign looking over the shoulder at the trapdoor or chasing the teams at the top.

The brothers went separate ways after underage. Eoin won a minor 'A' hurling title with Kilmaley before concentrating on the big-ball game. Conor played football with Clare up to U-21 level.

"Miltown Malbay would be all football," Conor explains. "There'd be a junior hurling team alright but it's all football. I started in Kilmaley when I was 10 and it was only really when I went to Flannan's that... I used to stay late for study in the evenings but I was doing a lot of hurling rather than studying in the evenings.

"I started off in the same year as Tony Kelly, Jack Browne, Peter Duggan, them lads, just seeing the way them lads carry themselves and the confidence they have and how much time they put into their hurling, it kind of brought me on a lot I suppose.

"(Eoin's) last game of hurling was the minor 'A' final for Kilmaley, which we won so he went out on a high."

Clare hurling has been on a high so far this year and are the only team in the top division to boast a 100pc record which means they have both secured their status as a 1A team and a place in the league quarter-finals.

Read more: Fitzgibbon first for Foley despite scheduling clash

"It's been a great start. This time last year we had only one win in the league and that brings its own pressure with it. Yeah, it's been a great start and just trying to build on it now on Sunday. We're just focused on Sunday now after last weekend.

"I suppose the first day against Tipperary this year, it was a very tight game and we got the win there.

"It was on in Cusack Park and we really felt that the home crowd behind us gave us great confidence and comparing that to last year, we lost to Cork in the first game down below there so it was just winning in Cusack Park in the first game and then after the game the reaction of the Clare supporters, we really got a good lift from it.

"We brought that to Kilkenny then and then the last day in Cusack Park again when the game was tight the Clare supporters really got behind us. It does give you great confidence when you feel that lift from the crowd coming when the games are tight."

Fitzgerald gave Cleary his first call-up to the Clare panel in late 2013 but he insists the Banner players won't be bothered by coming up against their former manager on Sunday.

"I'll always have great time for him. I suppose he'll know a lot about us and that adds its own thing to the game but no, I wouldn't really, once the game starts you're concentrating on your opponent."

Irish Independent

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