Munster Club Hurling Final: Gearóid Considine – Renaissance Man

Gearóid Considine in action for Clare in 2001.

Gearóid Considine is Cratloe’s renaissance man — away from this native place for a decade as he pursued his study and work commitments abroad, he’s been back since last year for his second and glorious coming with the club, writes Joe Ó Muircheartaigh.

“We are sure that the many happy memories we have of him will inspire all Cratloe hurlers, not only this year but for many years to come, to strive to compete to the maximum of their ability and be as successful as they possibly can be.”

APRIL 7, 2001.
Everyone in Cratloe remembers the day, because in many ways it has informed much of what has happened since to the small club in a pocket of south east Clare that has reached such remarkable heights over the past five years.
Success after success on the field, development and monuments off it, with the constant reminders  from club officials, a duty of care almost, when it comes to remembering and honouring one of their own.
Cratloe crossed sticks with Ballyea in an Under 21 B hurling semi-final in Fr Murphy Park in Newmarket-on-Fergus that Saturday evening, with a place in the county final against Clooney/Quin at stake.
Ten minutes into the second half 18-year-old Michael Murphy collapsed on the field and later died in the arms of his mother Eileen on his way to Ennis General Hospital after the game had been abandoned.
“Numbness, shock, sadness were just some of the feeling felt by those present in Newmarket as they tried to absorb the huge loss of Michael Murphy,” noted the tribute penned in the 2001 Clare GAA Yearbook.
“After his family, Michael’s greatest love was for the game of hurling. If he wasn’t playing, training or going to matches he was pucking around the road, hooping or repairing hurleys for himself and his friends in his spare time.
“A hurling person’s first impression  of Cratloe would always be a positive one as there was always ‘Murph’ pucking a ball across the road at Cratloe Cross. Everyone in Cratloe is still trying to come to terms with Michael’s parting. We are sure that the many happy memories we have of him will inspire all Cratloe hurlers, not only this year but for many years to come, to strive to compete to the maximum of their ability and be as successful as they possibly can be,” it added.
The tribute’s authors were Joe McGrath, Martin Murphy and Mike Deegan — three of the pillars on Cratloe very own ‘Mount Rushmore’ — and that alone tells you a lot about the depth of feeling in the parish at the time.
For Gearóid, then the 20-year-old captain of the team, the poignancy of what happened went deeper again and still does over a dozen years on. They were team-mates, but also friends and engineering students in Limerick Institute of Technology. 
“It was a point in Cratloe history,” says Considine, who is one of four survivors from that Under 21 team of 13 years back still on the senior squad. “Davy Ryan was playing that day, so too were Barry Duggan and John O’Gorman, while I was midfield with Michael.
“Expectations were very different then at senior level,” admits Considine. “I made my debut for Cratloe seniors in ’97 as a minor with the likes of Ronan O’Hara, my brother Damian, the Galvins. Even then the potential was in Cratloe, the talent to build and create something was there. Then what happened to Michael was a real turning point for the club, I really believe that.
“He had brain haemorrhage on the pitch. It could have happened him driving — in bed in his sleep, but it happened him on the pitch, doing something he loved. There was something in that. What happened was terrible, but we actually picked ourselves up and actually won the competition afterwards. 
“It brought the whole club closer together. I feel that as a bunch we won that Under 21 B final in those circumstances and a nice team started knitting together, a culture, an ethos started. Even back in 2001 you’d have the younger guys — the McGraths and the Collins’ looking on at us. 
“They would have seen all that. Us losing a player, then pulling together, going again and winning. That drove them on to win A titles in football and hurling, with the work that Colm (Collins) and Joe (McGrath) started doing really kicking it off and giving that ethos and hunger to win for the lads,” he adds. 
By then Gearóid Considine had moved on from Cratloe and Clare, even if the hunger for home was always there.

“I had two cruciate ligament injuries behind me at 18 and 21 and I had just finished my diploma in LIT so I decided to go away and finish my degree in Dundee. We were on a holiday in Dubai with the Clare team after the 2002 All-Ireland — I saw all the buildings and all the new infrastructure there — and so with a contact I made on that trip I got a job over there when I finished my degree in 2005.”

IT was 2003 and 23-year-old Considine had packed in a lot of big games into a brief career already punctuated by a couple of cruciate ligament injuries. He was a dual county minor in 1997, being midfield on the hurling team that won the All-Ireland, while he was back in Croke Park the following spring to add an All-Ireland Colleges medal to his collection.
At under 21 level there was the disappointment of losing that infamous 1999 Munster final against Tipperary in Cusack Park and then the subsequent failures to Limerick in 2000 as they started their three-in-a-row and Tipperary in ’01 when he was captain.
By then Considine was on Cyril Lyons’ senior team, starting the 2001 National League final defeat to Tipperary and coming on in the All-Ireland the following year when grabbing 0-2 in an impressive 14-minute cameo against Kilkenny.
“My last game for Clare was when we were beaten by Galway in the All-Ireland Qualifier in Ennis in 2003,” he recalls, “and soon after I went away and was gone from hurling in the county for ten years.
“I had two cruciate ligament injuries behind me at 18 and 21 and I had just finished my diploma in LIT so I decided to go away and finish my degree in Dundee. We were on a holiday in Dubai with the Clare team after the 2002 All-Ireland — I saw all the buildings and all the new infrastructure there — and so with a contact I made on that trip I got a job over there when I finished my degree in 2005.”
So began Considine’s eclectic mix of sporting pitstops on his travels. It was the Dubai Celts for the GAA and the Hurricanes for rugby out of which he represented the United Arab Emirates internationally at Sevens level, before moving to Hong Kong and winning an Asian Games medal in 2011.
“It was great and I played a lot of football and rugby, but not so much hurling because it was only really an exhibition game in Dubai with the odd game here and there. Football was the mainstay but I mostly played rugby in the end and that’s where I got a lot of my strength and fitness from.
“I was watching the final in 2009 in my office on the TG4 Player — delighted and over the moon that Cratloe had won a senior, but missing out on not being there. It was there in the back of my mind that I was going to go back try to win one.”
Considine finally landed home in 2013, by which time Cratloe had contested two more county finals in 2010 and 2012 and lost both, while there was yet more disappointment on his return as they crashed out at the group stages of last year’s championship race.
“It’s a new kind of experience for me,” he admits. “I came back and gave 110 per cent to get in contention for a place first of all — that’s all I was thinking and I just got one game against Crusheen — the game we drew that put us out of the championship.
“It was a shock to go out, but the damage was done when losing to Inagh/Kilnamona. It’s like Sixmilebridge this year — lose the first game and you’re in serious trouble. The likes of Barry Duggan — he was in the dressing room after the game and that was it. He was gone — he though it was over for him, but back he came.
“I won’t say the Crusheen game was the best thing that ever happened us, but we were very much focused two or three months before the Clare Cup began to get to where we are now.
“Looking back on it going out to Crusheen really drove the team on — the likes of Conor McGrath is like a man possessed to win this championship for the club. It was great to be part of something like that after being away from it for so long — I looked on it as a huge huge achievement to be part of something that we had targetted as a team and a club.
“But you wouldn’t believe the amount of effort that we’ve put in. Every team does put in a lot of effort — that’s collectively, but a lot of individuals have put in a lot of work. For a club team — you have the five or six main guys, but the other 24 are just as professional. Everyone else tries to emulate them — no one wants to show disrespect to anyone else on the squad by not training or not putting in the effort. It’s definitely a collective — it’s not the few putting in hard yards. We’ve been in the gym for months and still do two nights a week there and the reward was the county title, but still it was only the first hurdle.”
Sunday is the next, as Cratloe’s hurlers live up that maxim penned by Joe McGrath, Mike Deegan and Martin Murphy in the 2001 Clare GAA Yearbook:
“Compete to the maximum of their ability and be as successful as they possibly can be.”
It’s why Michael Murphy’s name will be mentioned in the dressing room once more; it’s why Gearóid Considine will think of his old midfield partner from all those years ago.

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