Forty years on from winning back to back National League titles, the Clare senior hurlers of 1977 and 1978 were honoured with a civic reception by Clare County Council this week.
Such an honour is the highest that can be bestowed by the local authority and this was not lost on this group. The reception arose following a motion from councillors, Joe Cooney, Pat Daly and Michael Begley, a combination of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Independent, an inter-party gathering which is fitting given that it when came to playing for their county, the men of 77&78 put intense club rivalries to one side.
Acting Senior Executive Office, Ann Reynolds welcomed everyone to the event, stating that their success was the “Beginning of a movement in rural Clare where hopes and dreams became a reality. Their legacy extends beyond double league wins”. Joe Cooney introduced every panellist with the Clare GAA Chairperson highlighting an individual trait for every single player.
Manager of the side, Fr Harry Bohan described the evening as “the most auspicious occasion”. “This team challenged the prejudice of history” and Bohan remarked that “the losing of two Munster Finals was nothing short of heartbreaking”.
Justin McCarthy trained the Banner at the time and travelled from Rochestown for the reception. In the late seventies for every training session he completed the 98 mile route multiple times a week. He called Fr Harry “a visionary” and told the players “We had great memories, great times, forget about the losses it’s about the success you had”.
All Star goalkeeper Seamus Durack was the man between the posts at the time. “This is a real honour in the twilight of our lives to be able to accept this” he commented. The Duke paid tribute to all members of management, the wives and girlfriends but he heralded one of the unsung heroes of Clare GAA, Pa Howard who put together an invaluable book recording county hurling teams from times gone by or as Durack labelled it “the gospel according to St Pa”.
This was a special civic reception that celebrated a special group of men. Unfortunately their progression to the All-Ireland stage was stopped by a formidable Cork side of that era. Many of these players became and remained household names, an indication of how highly regarded they were. They sowed the seeds of belief within Clare hurling, they showed that the Saffron and Blue can dare to dream and less than twenty years after they reached the summit with one of the men from 77/78 steering the ship. They created dreams, they made history and left a legacy, these guys, they had it all.
For the record, the Clare men involved in the success were;
PANEL: Jimmy McNamara (Capt), Sean Stack (Capt), Seamus Durack, Jackie O’Gorman, Jim Power, Johnny McMahon, Ger Loughnane, Sean Hehir, Gus Lohan, Michael Moroney, Colm Honan, Enda O’Connor, Tom Crowe (RIP), Noel Casey, Johnny Callinan, Pat O’Connor, Martin McKeogh, Timmy Ryan, Tom Glynn, DJ Meehan, Con Woods, Michael O’Connor (Tubber), Michael O’Connor (Parteen), Michael Murphy, Gerry Nugent, Pat Morey, Tommy Keane, Leo Quinlan, Con McGuinness (RIP), Brendan Gilligan, Flann McInerney, Noel Burke, Jimmy Puddin Cullinan.
MANAGEMENT: Fr Harry Bohan (manager), Colum Flynn (selector/physio), Justin McCarthy (selector/trainer), Noel O’Driscoll (selector), Jim Woods (selector), Gerry Browne (selector) (RIP), Matt Nugent (selector) (RIP)
All photographs by Eamon Ward.