David Tubridy has been one of the heaviest scorers in league football since his debut in 2008 – now the Doonbeg talisman finally gets his chance to do some damage on his field of dreams, writes Joe Ó Muircheartaigh.
THE things you do to gain an edge, improve yourself and try to go those extra few miles. For the collective, as well as for your own selfish desires of personal performance.
Clare played Limerick in a challenge game at the St Patrick’s club in the city on Good Friday. It was a late afternoon throw-in and after it you’d think that David Tubridy was done with football for the day.
There was a club game against the Shames to be played on Saturday, so he could have rested up for that. But no…
Instead, it was to make haste the 60 or so miles back west before dusk, just so he could hit the waters the waters of Doughmore for a swim and the Atlantic Ocean’s idea of an ice-bath.
Only difference, of course, was that the charge and feelgood factor of the Atlantic ions was better than any ice-bath, energy boosting drink or gym session.
We don’t know if Tubridy took a detour from Doughmore on his way back to the long village by dropping into Shanahan McNamara Park with a bag of footballs to kick some frees, but the odds are that he did.
It’s what you do.
It’s why Tubridy has been Clare’s most prodigious scorer – this generation or any generation for that matter – since getting his first league start with the seniors against Carlow in Miltown in 2008.
The stats speak for themselves.
He hit 0-6 that first day against Carlow, so began an uninterrupted run as Clare’s top scorer, amassing a tally of 12-30 in 44 league games up until the beginning of this year.
Now add to that this year’s tally of 1-33 – a figure that’s one point greater than last year’s total – which was another huge contribution to the cause. He missed the second round game against Leitrim because of hamstring trouble, which meant that the Antrim game was his landmark 50th league appearance for the county.
He’s scored 13-163 over the course of seven league seasons – that’s a lot of shooting practice before finally getting his chance to kick some ball in Croke Park and in Tubridy’s own words, live the dream.
“The chance to get to play in Croke Park is a dream come true really,” he says. “We’re always looking at the big teams play there – the Kerrys, Corks, Dublins and all those big teams, so it great to get the chance to play there and it’s going to be a great day out.
“Just to play there is unbelievable. There are a few on the panel like Michael O’Shea, Rory Donnelly and Enda Coughlan with Clare, while Enda, Marty McMahon and Shane Hickey were there with Kilmurry. They’ve said it’s just an unreal feeling to play there,” he adds.
His father Tommy played in the National League Division 3 final against Armagh in 1976, as did John McGrath and Martin Murphy, the fathers of Shane McGrath and Martin ‘Ogie’ Murphy respectively.
That 1976 game went to a replay before Armagh edged it by a point and was Clare’s last league decider at Croke Park for 38 years until this Saturday evening. A long time coming, for this group of players as much as the county.
“You always have to keep at it,” says Tubridy of Clare’s league crusade over the past few years. “There were disappointments and we were close, but you can’t just fall away if it doesn’t happen for you the first time, or if it happens that you fail again and again. You have to keep coming back.
“The group of players who have been there over the last couple of years have stuck with it. It would have easier to jump ship but when Colm Collins came in this year he really got us together. The team unity, you could see it in everybody. We were there for everybody and that’s what got us here.
“It didn’t look good at half-time against Antrim, but it just shows the spirit that’s there this year. We were confident we could do it going out in the second half. We knew what our plan was and we stuck to it,” he adds.
Now it’s a case of executing the grand plan to beat Tipperary – to atone for the defeats in the last two years and record a first league win over the Premier County in 11 years.
“We are confident we can do it,” says Tubridy, “because there’s a great system there this year with what Colm and the lads have brought in. They sit us down every Wednesday and look at the games, the positives and the negatives and it really improves a player.
“Every day we try to eke out the negatives of what we’re doing and over the weeks, since the first day against Waterford and the last day against Antrim we’ve improved in an awful lot of different areas.
“We have faltered against Tipp the last couple of years, but I thought we were the better team against them below in Thurles, but we just couldn’t put away our chances and the few goals they got really killed it.
“We came back after the first and second goals, but the third one really killed it. We’re even enough and I think we’re on a level par with Tipperary, so hopefully we can finally take them the next day and get a trophy out of it.”
What better way for Tubridy to pass the half century mark of league appearances for the county.