Tuesday 20 February 2018

We will prove we're no one-hit wonders, vows David McInerney

Clare defender David McInerney reading over the Hurling Development Committee’s action plan which was launched in Croke Park yesterday
Clare defender David McInerney reading over the Hurling Development Committee’s action plan which was launched in Croke Park yesterday

Michael Verney

Hits such as the Macarena, Cotton Eye Joe, Don't Call Me Baby and A Whiter Shade Of Pale have 'one' thing in common and it's a fate the Clare hurlers are keen to avoid.

The hurling world lay at the Banner's feet just two years ago after an unexpected Liam MacCarthy cup success sent their star into orbit.

A period of sustained dominance looked likely but despite a healthy conveyor belt of talent, with four U-21 All-Ireland titles in the last seven years, the walls came tumbling down.

The tag of "one-hit wonders" has been thrown in their direction, a label that doesn't sit well with David McInerney. At 20 he collected an All-Star and first Celtic Cross in an outstanding debut season and he's hoping to make up for lost time in 2016.


"For ourselves, we need to do something next year," McInerney said at the launch of the Hurling Development Committee Action Plan yesterday. "Some of the older lads will be chomping at the bit because they might be coming to an end.

"We're a very young team but three years in a row of bad hurling. . . if Kilkenny had three bad years in a row they would be disappointed. We really want to go and get some good results now."

Expectations are high, with county chairman Michael McDonagh talking about All-Ireland titles in the wake of Donal Og Cusack's appointment as coach/selector. And just one championship win since that historic Sunday brings its own pressure.

But Tulla man McInerney sees it differently. He's relishing the challenge ahead as Clare bid to rejoin hurling's elite.

"I'm more excited than feeling under pressure," he stressed. "I think a lot of teams will be fancying themselves for the All-Ireland. There are team meetings going on all over the country at the minute where people are saying that to each other.

"Trophies are at the back of our minds and we'll be aiming to win everything we go in for: we don't want to be one-hit wonders. To get back there it's going to take an awful lot of work but we're ready to do it."

While performances improved in 2015 with signs of a return to form, Davy Fitzgerald's side weren't able to get a big win, falling to both Limerick (one point) and Cork (three points).

The full-back felt they were just one win away from firing back.

"We were unlucky in a few games and I just feel that if we got a little bit extra we wouldn't be far off teams," he said. "I'm a big believer in momentum and we just needed a slight kickstart last year. Who knows what might have happened? But obviously we weren't good enough and we'll be setting the record straight next year."

Clare's unique style caused teams to radically change their approach with regards to physical conditioning and productivity on the field but despite setting the trend, the Banner got lost in the stampede.

"I suppose in 2014, that winter we didn't do much training, we had our holiday in January, and we came back and we were kind of still in a euphoric state, and our work-rate wasn't as good as it should have been," McInerney acknowledged.

"It definitely has to come up more. Most managers are putting an emphasis on turnovers, hooks and blocks, as a great means to win matches.

"It drains the other team when you're turning them over and getting scores, so I think there'll be a real push in that area of our game."

With controversy causing a spring of discontent, many questioned Clare's unity as a squad but it never got to McInerney and he "always enjoys going to training" and believes their bond is as strong as ever.

He feels the dual captaincy of Tony Kelly and Cian Dillon "helps promote leadership at both ends of the field" and hopes players of all ages can step up to reach the heights of 2013.

To finish a career with a single number one is a shame for a band oozing potential and creativity. For Clare it would be no different.

Irish Independent

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