DAVE Barry is Clooney-Quin now, but at the same time it’s his past that formed him and where hurling is concerned that was Newmarket-on-Fergus during their period of almost uninterrupted dominance over all other Canon Hamilton opponents.
It’s down in Fr Murphy Park on the road towards Quin that his interest and passion for the game was stoked — formative years when the Blues were winning senior championship for fun and from memory — and now has him chasing the same senior championship dream over half a century later.
Different era, same goal — that breakthrough victory that this generation of Clooney-Quin hurlers yearn for, just like the Blues of old and of Barry’s youth did before coming of age with their 1963 win over Whitegate.
“As a child I would remember Newmarket making that breakthrough,” he recalls. “I remember my father talking about it when going to matches, ‘will they ever do it, will they ever do it’. This was the time when Puddin (Jimmy Cullinan), Fagin (Pat Cronin), Michael Considine and Liam Danagher were coming through. They all came together.
“They won because the hunger was there and I often remember being up in the hurling field as a kid during the summer and any of them could be up there. You might have Puddin or Danagher — they could be working on shift in the airport so in the mornings or afternoons during the week that they’d be off they’d up on the field. We’d be hurling balls to them from every corner of the field. High balls to Danagher, I always remember hitting high balls to Danagher so he could pull on them in the air.
“We all loved the Puddin, but everyone is different. You’d love Puddin the way he’d play with the ball, or Danagher the way he’d pull on the ball and the way he’d cover the field, Fagin the way he’d score. I go up along, Michael Arthur was the power and strength up in the full-forward line with Paddy Mac (McNamara). I could be here forever more — look at Louis Halpin who would tie things down at the back, the O’Learys. I remember every one of them and they’d all have attributes that I’d love to see in players at the moment.
“You could see the dedication that they had and it goes back to what I’d say about the current players — if decide they’re going to do it, it’s very very hard to stop them as a group.”
Therein lies the link between Barry’s native Newmarket and his Clooney-Quin team — dedication being the key word to explain away the club’s march to a first county final in 73 years.
“Every year the team went out with the intention of trying to get to a county final and winning it, but I supposed things didn’t click together for us,” he says. “We always had good players coming through, but it’s trying to harness them and keep them coming and get the team going together. It takes a huge effort, every team will tell you that, and sometimes it just doesn’t work.
“This year the commitment of the players has been key. Fergie O’Loughlin is great with them. The structure to his training is very good and the lads enjoy it, but it’s their commitment to the training that has been the big thing. I’ve said that all along, the trainer can go down to the field all day and every day, but it’s when the lads commit to it that a force comes into the group and that’s what pulls you forward.”
Barry is a link with the 2006 management when county intermediate and Munster championship came to the club — it was his first year involved with the senior team after being involved at underage level for five years previously.
Now, after a few years away from the senior team set-up he’s back as manager — 60 minutes will tell if lightening is about to strike twice.
“You need that bit of luck,” he says. “I wasn’t with them last year but Ballyea only beat them by a point down in Sixmilebridge — look where Ballyea went after that. This year we were out of the championship at full-time against Feakle and got a goal to get back into it. The margins are so tight and when the luck runs for you can really run with it. We grabbed it and ran with it, but apart from that the lads have worked really, really hard.
“This is where we wanted to get to. It’s huge for the community but what I would be saying to the players is brush off it, don’t get involved in it. Putting flags up the bunting and things like that, that’s for other people to do, it’s for other people to get excited.
“We have to do the job, we’re the workers and have to keep the heads down and get the job done. That’s what we have to do. It’s great to see the flags and bunting up, but we need to note it and then pass it out. We’ve to get on with it.”
That it’s the ‘Bridge blocking the way will ensure that Clooney-Quin are rank outsiders — but then again that’s the world they inhabited before the quarter and semi-final wins over Éire Óg and Clonlara respectively.
“We’ve ignored the labels put on us and we’ve concentrated on our own strengths and power and own beliefs,” says Barry. “That’s what we’ve worked on the whole way. All we’ve ever talked about is one game at a time. We never put any label on the game, it’s just another game, and a harder game to win. That’s all we’ve been saying.
“This is David v Goliath. All we can do is go in and perform to the best we can. It is a huge ask but it’s a great test to be put to you — I’m really looking forward to it. We’ll go in and give it our best shot and if we come up short so be it, if we come up tops great.”