Sunday 22 July 2018

Daly bemused by Banner's Croke Park absence since '13

Ex-Clare captain and manager Anthony Daly says the county needs to tackle their poor record in Munster. Photo: Ray McManus / Sportsfile
Ex-Clare captain and manager Anthony Daly says the county needs to tackle their poor record in Munster. Photo: Ray McManus / Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Clare's double All-Ireland-winning captain Anthony Daly admits it's "incredulous" to think that it will be five years this summer since the county's hurling team last played in Croke Park.

As a measure of how they have failed to build on their 2013 All-Ireland success, their absence from "the great cauldron" - as Daly referred to it - is as pointed as their poor Munster SHC record.

He says it's an anomaly that "irks" Clare people.

"You're watching the replay in '13 and all the bunting going up over Drumcondra on a Saturday night, a glorious Saturday night, and to think we wouldn't be in the stadium, wouldn't be in the stadium, to this day?" stressed Daly.

"That would have been incredulous for us. To see the U-21s winning (against Antrim in the All-Ireland final). Like, to tell a Clare person that night, 'you won't be there until 2018'?

Irking

"That's the bit I think that's irking the Clare man on the street, why can't we get back there? I didn't win a thing over them (as manager between 2004 and 2006) but every year we were in Croke Park. We made the semi-finals two years and a quarter-final.

"We were lucky to get the quarter-final in Croke Park (2004) but we still drew with Kilkenny there that year. It's not easy but certainly, we should not have been five years out of Croke Park with the players that are there. To say that Tony Kelly wouldn't play in Croke Park (for the county) again, Colm Galvin, Conor McGrath, these guys, David McInerney? They're too good not to be in the great cauldron and Clare people are dying to get back there."

Daly feels 2013 and those three successive All-Ireland U-21 titles (2012-2014) are very much in the past now.

"People would look at winning three U-21s with the boys more than 2013. I think the book has been closed on 2013. It's just people are saying, 'this is five years on, you were 21, you're 26 (now), where are you?'

"Even Bobby Duggan, my own (Clarecastle) clubmate, heading off for Chicago for three months. For some reason (he) just hasn't clicked into senior and I still would think he should be at that level.

"I see with the club, when we needed him he was magnificent. Some managers fancy some players, we all had that experience both as players and managers, that a certain time comes that you're not in favour with a certain manager and that can happen."

Speaking at the launch of RTÉ's championship coverage, Daly said the character of the players can't be questioned despite their Munster and Croke Park records.

"How can you say (that) to a guy that finished his career with two Munster minors, three Munster U-21s, three All-Ireland U-21s, an All-Ireland medal, a League medal, but they haven't won a Munster.

"We won three Munsters and that would be an irk on us as well, not to win a Munster. As good and all as they were, they couldn't back it up from 2013 to win a Munster even and get into the semi-final, even if you lose it.

"They have great character," he said of the current team. "I was at one of those preview nights in Oranmore and Frank Lohan lives there now - he was in the crowd.

"When it came to (discussing) Clare, I just said, 'if we could reincarnate this guy now - fit-looking as normal - and his brother (Brian) and lob them in there, I'd fancy our boys to win the All-Ireland.'

"But we have struggled in the full-back line, for some peculiar reason. "We've question marks now. Do (David) McInerney and (Seadna) Morey go back or do we stick with the three that they played right through the league?" he asked.

Ahead of their opening match against Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday, Daly is adamant that Clare must impose themselves in their home games to have a chance of progressing from a new-look Munster championship.

"The first game is huge obviously, but we have to win the two home games, Limerick and Waterford in Ennis. If you go back, traditionally Cork and Tipp would be the big guns and we'd probably be bottom of that, maybe Waterford and ourselves.

"Limerick would be ahead of us, probably, in Munster traditionally, but the three would be seen as equal over the last 20 years maybe. Win the two home games and that gives us a massive chance of being at least third.

"And if we can pick up something away from home in Cork, even one draw away in Thurles, there's a great chance of being in a Munster final. And then you're on the road."

Irish Independent

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