After defeat by Cork in the Munster championship Clare now start the same road they took last year. I take a look at something this year’s Clare team could be the first to do.
When Clare captain Pat Donnellan received the Cup in September after leading his county to All Ireland success, he was only one of three men in history to enjoy such and honour. Amby Power was the first back in 1914 and current Dublin manager Anthony Daly lifted it twice in 1995 and 1997.
However, neither Power nor Daly could manage to lead their teams to successive All Ireland titles. In fact, only five counties have achieved this. The big three of Cork, Tipperary and Kilkenny have done it multiple times together with Wexford in the 1950s and Galway in the 1980s.
Clare’s first attempt came in 1915 after Amby Power had led his team to victory over Laois the previous year. In a lob sided Munster Semi Final against Waterford in the Gaelic grounds the Banner men ran out easy winners by 10-4 to 2-1.
The final was a repeat of the previous year as they came up against Cork again. However, the Rebels reversed the result with a comprehensive 8-2 to 2-1 score line thus ending Clare’s first chance of back-to-back titles.
When Anthony Daly announced in the Hogan stand in 1995 that after 81 years a missing person by the name of Liam McCarthy had been found alive and well he found himself in a position only Amby Power had experienced all those years before. A very different Ireland existed but Hurling’s championship remained the same.
The back door system was not in place yet so the following year when Clare were dramatically beaten by Limerick in the Munster Semi final by a single point at the death another chance at back-to-back successes failed.
Perhaps it was down to the trap door of success that caused their early exit in 1996 but the following year Clare and Daly proved they were still one of hurling’s dominant teams as they won their third All Ireland title. This would be their last attempt at back-to-back successes before next year’s championship and would prove to be the most controversial.
They beat Cork in Thurles in the Munster semi before playing Waterford in the final. A physical contest resulted in a draw. Suspensions were handed out before the replay due to some of the encounters however Clare made no mistake the next day winning by 2-16 to 0-10.
Offaly who were beaten in the Leinster Final progressed to the All Ireland semi final against the Banner due to the back door system that was introduced the previous year. Clare experienced their second draw of the campaign as the sides ended 1-13 apiece. The replay became the most controversial game in recent hurling history.
With Clare three points up in the 68th minute the referee Jimmy Cooney surprisingly blew the whistle. Confusion and outrage occurred resulting in the game having to be replayed again. This time Offaly came out on top winning by 0-16 to 0-13 and as a result ending Clare’s back-to-back All Ireland attempts.
In his speech, Pat Donnellan said this year’s Clare team would not disappear. He and his teams moment in history has arrived.