*Mark McInerney on the attack for Éire Óg. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
HE HAS THE PEDIGREE and Mark McInerney is adamant both he and his teammates have the hunger to match it when it comes to their bid to retain the Jack Daly.
Mark McInerney is an incredible young talent. Only 21 years old on Sunday he will be aiming to win back to back senior football championships. He is part of a lethal full forward line that includes captain Gavin Cooney and Philip Talty. He comes from a huge footballing pedigree with his father one of Clare’s greatest ever players. Both he and Gavin share the freetaking duties.
Sharing the frees mantle doesn’t add any pressure, he admitted. “With the frees to be honest I don’t. I believe if you stick to your routine, whether it’s off my hands and it’s six steps back followed by three bounces or on the ground where I take six steps back and six to the side, it’s all about that routine. If you do what you’ve done countless times at training then you should just slot them over”.
Similarly the McInerney name hasn’t added any additional burden with his father Francis also a positive influence. “With my father, he’s been a great support to me but he will also always be given me advice like keep your head down more before you kick or you should have taken more steps to the side on that one because the angle was tougher”.
Mark’s father played his entire club career with Doonbeg, while the Éire Óg corner forward leaves no doubt about his respect for the Magpies, he unequivocally states that he himself is a Townie. “I’m a Townie, we have a family WhatsApp group and we have great craic and banter on it. I know all my relatives would rather I had a black and white jersey on but banter aside they like my father always give me great support. Even last year we played Doonbeg in the group stage and I converted a free with my cousin Evie in the stands and she applauded me. Well she got some slagging off her friends and in the family chat group,” he says laughing.
On facing Ennistymon, he firstly follows the standard lines of praising the opposition but to his credit he gives a great insight into how he and his team will prepare for the challenge. “Ennistymon are a serious team, they are in this final on merit, they’ve beaten St Breckan’s and Kilmurry Ibrickane so that is serious form coming into a final. They are strong, powerful, well organised and have seriously good players. We know they will pack the defence with plenty of players behind the ball. It will be tough with no space but you have to be patient. You must keep going and when the opportunity arrives you must take it. It’s from a kick out that a blanket defence is most vulnerable, we have to press those kickouts, push right up on them and force turnovers. If you turnover the ball in that situation it can lead to goals. This will take work rate all over the field but that’s what we will do. If you work harder than the opposition you’re invariably in a good place come that final whistle”.
Last year’s breakthrough has whetted Mark’s appetite for more success. “Last year was amazing but all it does is give you hunger for more. As champions you have a different mindset about winning. You just want it more and more. I’ve a picture on my phone of us all marching behind the pipe band and I love looking at it. It brings back all those wonderful memories. You want to play again and again on those big days but you also want to win again. If you perform you tend to win. It’s all about doing the basics and doing them well like the coaches have drilled into us. Paul Madden always says it’s about the next 60 minutes and we have to work harder than whoever we are playing. Do that and the result usually follows”.