THE door opens and out he comes. And at once there’s a battalion of reporters around him. He’s in a different world now, almost not for this world, but somewhere out there in the ether. Unworldy.
It’s Shane O’Donnell, or as some will call him for the rest of his days, it’s ‘Three-Three’ or ‘Three Goals and Three Points’.
The man. The Boy Wonder. Move over Laois footballer Tommy Murphy, that name belongs to the Townie now. Clare’s most famous All-Ireland scorer of them all; Clare’s most famous match-winner of them all.
We’ll always pay homage to Eamonn Taaffe for his flash of the ash in ’95; same way King Jamesie O’Connor’s point two years later will never grow old, but it’s Shane O’Donnell now.
It’s his time. It’s O’Donnell Abú; it’s O’Donnell Abú for all time.
“I was lucky enough to get on the pitch,” he says.
“The lads gave me the ball, handed them on a plate for me to score goals. I’m not good at scoring points and I decided I was going to go for goals. I have it my mind that I’ll for for goals.
“You can’t describe it. You literally dream of that from when you’re a kid. Going up to the Hill – there’s always a delay from when it hits the net and when they roar, it’s absolutely amazing.
“If I had a dream last night that I was going to score 3-3, I’d have woken up and said that’s ridiculous. I’d have been happy with one. It’s the stuff of dreams, since I was five or six when I picked up a hurley.”
All this after he only learned of his place on the first 15 barely three hours previously.
“We were in St Patrick’s College getting food,” he reveals, “and Davy brought me aside and said ‘we decided to start you instead of Darach today’. He just said to me ‘do as you always do, go for goals’.
“The last few weeks in training have been good to me. The week before the 21 match and from then I’ve been going well. You just hit a patch of form and I got it at the right time and I got put on.
“I get very nervous before matches and in hindsight it made it easier being told late (it was 2.50pm before he knew) because I slept great last night and got up this morning and said ‘I can’t wait for my chance to get on’. Then when I was told, I wasn’t too nervous about it. It was just excited to get out there.”
And the goals?
“A year or two ago I’d be very bad – I’d get a goal or two and I’d be delighted with that and I’d end the game and thinking I could have got way more. I just kept thinking that this game isn’t over and especially the way Cork were fighting back. Cork were always going to come back at us and they did. We really had to get back on the bike and go again.”
And his favourite goal?
“I have to say the third because the other two were absolutely put on a plate for me. I did absolutely nothing – two steps and put them in the far corner, but if I had to pick a goal it was Conor McGrath’s, it topped all of mine easily. It was brilliant.”
With that O’Donnell was finally prized away, not before revealing some of his plans for the week.
The celebrations, of course, but also making it back to University College Cork where he’s a second year genetics student.
Genetics, the foclóir tells us is “the science of genes in living organisms”.
He certainly has hurling in his genes. Goalscoring in his genes and points scoring too.
It’s why he’s called ‘Three Goals and Three Points’.
32 Page All-Ireland souvenir supplement with this week’s Clare People