*Clonlara’s Aidan Moriarty. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
AIDAN Moriarty is having a 2023 to remember, winning the Canon Hamilton and training since last November he feels that he’s never been in better shape and just loves playing for Clonlara.
Last November, they commenced their 2023 preparations in the gym which has left them in fine fettle as they won the senior championship and advanced to the Munster final. The run has been “truly unbelievable” according to the midfielder.
He told The Clare Echo, “We’ve a parish league set up for the 27th of December and we did it last year where we were all in terrible nick. It’ll be some league this year and we all in the best shape of our lives. The craic is brilliant, training is fresh and new, we’re doing video clips where we’re watching teams playing in Croke Park or Thurles whereas last year we were watching teams below in the bottom field. That’s the journey we’ve been on and it as cliche as it sounds is magical”.
That journey has seen them reach the promised land of a Munster Club Final just twelve months on from contesting a Senior B decider. “We played unbelievable hurling that night in Caherlohan and although it was Senior B we showed what we could do. Maybe it was the care free nature of the competition itself but it definitely gave us a belief that we can play good hurling. We just needed to bring that approach into the championship itself and thankfully we did it this year. We’ve worked so hard to get here and we are here on merit. We as a group talk about being able to adapt a lot and management have encouraged us to take ownership on the field. Sometimes messages won’t get through from the line and as players you have to be able to switch gears and change approaches when required. It’s been a learning curve each and every day and that performance in the Senior B has just carried on into this year and hopefully we can keep it going”.
Aidan’s father, Jack who died in April 2015 was affectionately known as Mr Underage in Clonlara for the time he spent coaching kids. “I feel nothing but immense pride in all my family really, both my parents originally came from Kerry and when they came here my father got involved with the club. He initially tried to start a football team but that didn’t go down too well” he says smiling.
“So he got involved with the hurling. He would have coached nearly everyone inside our dressing room and that gives you a great sense of pride. Even the last day warming up in Thurles with Cian (brother) was special and I knew my mother (Mary) and brother Sean were in the stands. It was a pretty special moment and that’s what playing for your club gives you, that sense of we’re all in it together from the people like my dad who coached underage teams to the hurler carrier, it’s just one big unit, one big family really.
“We all went to the school up the road, the majority of us went to the same secondary school and we’ve been together for years and we’ve a massive bond built up. This year it has really came to fruition and I do believe that you can see our bond when we take to the pitch. We all work so hard for each other and I honestly believe that’s been the key to our success. We know that if we work for each other, leave everything out there for each other, have pride in each other then no matter what we’ve been successful. I know my father would have loved all of this”.
They’ve had to endure several battles in different conditions from a quarter-final encounter with Éire Óg in a waterlogged pitch to a glorious day in the county final against Crusheen and they’ve came up with the answers every time questions have been asked of them. “We watched the last five minutes of the Kiladangan match during the week and it highlighted our resilience, our never say die attitude and that doesn’t come overnight. It’s built up through hard work but it’s also built up over having that bond. We won our opening round in a derby against a good Mills side and we’ve just taken it match by match since then”.
Clonlara is buzzing with flags everywhere and one can’t but get the sense of occasion. “I’ll tell you this we better make sure to set the alarms in the houses next Sunday because the parish will be empty. We were training in Barefield the other night and we’ve great craic at training and the whole banter was that there wouldn’t be a soul in Clonlara next Sunday. It’s special, it really is the best feeling and I’ll never forget the bus home from the county final. That was the sweetest journey I was ever on. The camogie team did it the following week and the club as a whole have created just a huge buzz around the parish. It’s the joy you get from playing with your own. There is no better feeling than seeing people’s faces when you win, it really is the greatest satisfaction I’ve encountered”.