Clancy ready and willing to step into breach for Banner
EAMON Dunphy, in his excellent diary of a professional footballer's season 'Only a Game?', written back in the mid-'70s, is the only player, in my experience, who has articulated publicly the human feelings of being left out of a team.
Professional soccer was relatively lucrative even in Dunphy's time, but that was no consolation when Millwall boss Benny Fenton dropped him for a match against Sheffield Wednesday in October, 1974.
This is how Dunphy described his emotions for that away trip to Sheffield which Millwall lost 3-2.
"You go into the dressing-room before the game and you smile and say: 'All the best, lads.' What does that mean?
"If they do well, you stay out. And when they get beaten, as we did last night, what do you do? You act. Because you can't come in with a big smile all over your face saying: 'Great. Now you've been beaten I can get back in.'
"Everybody else is sick. But you aren't. You are pleased. So you come in and make faces, pretend that you are sick like the rest of them. But everyone knows you are acting."
Stark truth. Uncompromising honesty, but where would any team in any sport be without its complement of reserves and panel members?
On Sunday, there will be lads from Clare and Cork who have done all the hard training, given the commitment and hoped against hope for the nod to start a championship game, only to have their yearnings dashed.
And still they turn up for duty, ready, willing and able to soldier in this Legion of the Rearguard, the back-up crew for the starting XV.
Whatever their innermost thoughts, they are ready to give their all for the cause in whatever role is required by the team management.
Jonathan Clancy of Clare is one of those squad members and he will not allow personal wishes to deflect him from the overall good of the Banner county.
Aged 27, Clancy made his championship debut with Clare in 2005, and has served under five managers – Anthony Daly, Tony Considine, Mike McNamara, Ger 'Sparrow' O'Loughlin and Davy Fitzgerald.
He's one of the relatively old boys in a Clare set-up backboned by a plethora of U-21s and this year finds himself on the outside looking in, with only one late appearance as a sub against Laois as his onfield championship contribution.
But smile when Clare lose? Grimace when they win? Not a chance. The 27-year-old accountant is only delighted to be part of a set-up that is preparing for an All-Ireland final.
Obviously, playing an active role at some stage would be the icing on the cake, but Clancy takes his fortune as it comes.
"Isn't it great, isn't this what you train for, what you aspire to since the time you started, to be involved in an All-Ireland final?
"You'd always want to be starting, but sure it's great to be involved and nice to be where we are now.
"You have years like this, but some years you mightn't be training at this time of year – that's the way it goes," said Clancy.
The Clarecastle club man has operated in a variety of positions for Clare over the last eight years, ranging from midfield through the forward positions.
He's very impressed with the quality of the young lads who have emerged from the 2009 and 2012 All-Ireland U-21 teams and sees part of his role to go as hard against them in training as he can.
And before you think that thought, let it vanish. The job in training matches is to maintain high intensity to prepare for the competitive fare in which no quarter is asked or given.
"How do you gauge yourself otherwise?
"You could be flying in training, but if the fella you're marking is only floating around, not too bothered – that's not going to do anyone any service.
"That's what it comes down to. If you're to be properly prepared, you need everyone going hammer-and-tongs in training.
"But they're good young lads, all of them," he said.
As for Cork, Clancy knows they will be formidable, but he doesn't feel Clare need any revenge motive to get them tuned up for Sunday.
"This is totally different. I really don't think that game (the Munster semi-final) will have much of a bearing on this one.
"There's motivation enough in playing for an All-Ireland title," he said.
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