Thursday 14 December 2017

Escaping hype was crucial: Donoghue

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

A trip to Dublin last weekend to get away from all the pre-match hype ahead of their second All-Ireland final proved pivotal in Clarinbridge's hurlers finally reaching their Holy Grail yesterday.

They were billeted in in the Radisson Hotel in Stillorgan and went through a perfect minute-by-minute dress rehearsal of St Patrick's Day.

"That was the biggest thing for us, to shelter them (from the hype)," explained manager Micheál Donoghue. Last weekend was going to be the busiest and the most talked about, so we go them out of town."

"We had a complete dry run, we'd the jerseys, the gear, we came to Croke Park and everything was timed to a tee," said veteran star Alan Kerins of their management's impeccable preparations that included bringing in several motivational speakers this season, including Eric Elwood.

Six of yesterday's starters played when they lost the 2002 final and Donoghue, then centre-back, made seven.

But yesterday was particularly special for Kerins as he, at 33, not only played a pivotal role, but pulled off a most unusual double; winning All-Ireland club medals in two different codes for two different clubs.

"It's surreal," he said, shaking his head." Hurling was always my number one and we lost in 2002 so it's unbelievable to have won both. I'd an unbelievable day with Salthill in 2006, but today was magic altogether. I can't believe it."

It was a far cry, he admitted, from nearly crashing out of the Galway championship in the group stages last summer.

"I remember looking up at the scoreboard against Beagh, we were six down with eight minutes to go and I was ready to retire there and then!" he said with a smile.

Clarinbridge are fortunate he didn't after he put in another bravura performance when moved to centre-forward in a direct switch with his brother Mark.

And he felt their roller-coaster season certainly helped keep heads cool when O'Loughlin's got a jump-start on them yesterday.

"We had started badly in the county final and in the replay, and against De La Salle, and the one thing that's been driven into us all year was composure.

"We only hurled for five minutes in the first half and were still level so we just went for it instead of watching it!"

There were fears that their nail-biting victory over De La Salle had been their 'All-Ireland' but manager Donoghue said he'd had none.

"We were well conscious that was just a semi-final and we'd nothing achieved, so it was easy get their feet back on the ground, we'd enough experience in the team to address it immediately," he said."

They included his own brother Liam (36) in goals, in his 21st year in the club senior jersey.

"You'd be saying at times this has to be the last year, but after that I just wish there was a game tomorrow and I could go on playing," Liam Donoghue said.

After such a trouncing O'Loughlin's had little complaint.

"We were going great for the first 27 or 28 minutes and then we conceded kind of a soft goal and they just hurled us off the field in the second half, for some reason it didn't happen for us," lamented beaten manager Michael Nolan.

"We should have been way ahead after 20 minutes, I think we drove five wides as well and you don't win All-Irelands making those mistakes. They've lost one (a final) too before, so maybe that was the extra spur."

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