IN tipping my hat to Gary Brennan’s óráid as Gaeilge, it might well be the opportune time to delve into the tome of seanfocail to explain away Clare’s remarkable National Football League final victory.
Could resort to ‘an rud is annamh is iontach’, but that would be too easy, even if this Division 3 success has been 29 years in coming.
What about ‘ní mar a shíltear a bhítear’ when looking for words to explain where Clare came from in those final few hectic minutes of what was a stirring symphony.
Beaten when three points adrift with less than three minutes left — but all was not as it seems as the Clondegad/Éire Óg amalgamation [they’d subsequently lock horns in Cusack Cup fare the next day] of captain Gary Brennan and tearaway defender Dean Ryan combined for the goal that changed everything.
‘Is fearr go mall ná go brách’ — better to be late than never to strike a blow that helped raise the spirits of Clare football people everywhere. The hardly annuals among the attendance of less than 9,000, those at home on radio or television, those further afield.

Croke Park had that feeling about it on Saturday evening — promotion to Division 2 for 2017 is a huge achievement for Clare in the context of the road that many of this group and management have travelled over the past couple of years.

This was a real case of ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’ — the strength of character that Clare displayed reminded one of the comment uttered by old Clare hurling great Johnny Callinan on the occasion of a Clare senior team playing championship in Croke Park for the first time in 60 years.
That was in 1992 of course, when the footballers blazed a trail for the county, football, hurling and everything by taking to the great stage against Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final.
“To paraphrase a great patriot it was great to take our place among the nations of the earth,” said the Clarecastle Magpie.
Croke Park had that feeling about it on Saturday evening — promotion to Division 2 for 2017 is a huge achievement for Clare in the context of the road that many of this group and management have travelled over the past couple of years.
But to get promotion as league champions — however much it was played down by manager Colm Collins during the week — was hugely important.
And when you consider that it looked so improbable with a couple of minutes remaining after Paul Cribbin showed that the art of long point-kicking is not dead, it was all the more special.
No wonder it left everyone breathless.
Collins had said the promotion in the league was the main target — this much is true, but at the end of the day it’s about winning things as well and in turning over a team with the pedigree of Kildare, with their new high profile manager of an All-Ireland winning curriculum vitae and all that, was a real statement of intent.
Remember a couple of years ago Kildare were a Division 1 team, while Clare were in Division 4 — evidence enough of the road already travelled.
Much done, but more to do, however.
It’s something that manager Colm Collins alluded to beforehand when talking of the importance of playing championship in Croke Park more than winning the Division 3 title.
That’s the ambition that he has for his players.
Now that’s the next target.
It’s been 24 years since it happened, when Clare GAA made Croke Park their own by dint of colour and atmosphere on that famous day that had Johnny Callinan thinking of the Great Liberator Daniel O’Connell.
Clare were liberated by Saturday’s win.
Playing championship in Croke Park — the road to which begins when they take on Limerick in five weeks time — would be a greater liberation again.

1 COMMENT

  1. My name is Martin Galvin and I live in N.Y and I am so proud of the Clare football team, I watched the game on T NA G in Florida mind you and I was going nuts. I have been following their progress for the past couple of years and I love what Colm Collins has been able to do. It’s only a week but I am still on a high, I am also a quilty man

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