*Donal Moloney. Photograph: Martin Connolly
It’s been a difficult and unusual period for Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor, recent heavy defeats to Tipperary and Limerick brought with it widespread criticism of them and their panel of players which management addressed in the moments following their victory over Cork.
Although Clare recorded a five point win over Cork, Limerick’s inability to beat or draw with Tipperary ensured their season came to an end on Sunday. Donal Moloney when asked what he felt of John Kiely’s decision not to start Hurler of the Year, Cian Lynch, captain Declan Hannon and the on-fire duo Graeme Mulcahy and Gearoid Hegarty, replied “That’s up to Limerick to do whatever they want, it’s a long road and it will turn some day”.
“We’re very proud of our players, we can’t control other results, I’m very proud, this is our third Sunday in a row, to be beaten like we were last week and then to do what they did today, to get up off the floor and do that really reflects the courage and the character of our players. We’re so proud of them and our county should be proud of them not some of the stuff that was said over the last few weeks”.
Donal was quite annoyed when mention was given to the criticism aimed in the direction of the panel and management over the past month. “We didn’t say anything all week to anyone, all we did was stay close to each other, so much stuff has been written and said by people that know absolutely nothing about the game, they are not supporters of Clare and not supporters of this team”.
He added, “We lost two games, we’ve a Munster championship record over the last three years, we’ve won six Munster championship games in the last three years, in the previous ten years we haven’t won that, when the boys have a bad day out and things go wrong everyone jumps in with the knife, there is a lot of people in Clare who shouldn’t be very proud of themselves”.
In particular, it was the comments in print media that angered the Scariff native. “It was a tough week, they can attack me as much as they want, we’re around a long time, we don’t have any issue with that but attacking players is not very respectful”. Of the criticism he said, “It was print and social media” and when asked where in particular, Donal stated, “I don’t think I have to qualify it, ye all know guys, ye don’t need me to spell it out”.
Clare’s response on the field did not surprise Moloney in the slightest. “The performance was always there, it’s very difficult in a performance like that to turn it on every single day, if you’re not at your absolutely utmost every day you’ll get turned over, that’s life, it’s very difficult to win four championship matches back to back especially the way the games are set up”.
“Our boys were heroic today from start to finish they were terrific and we’re so proud of them”. Winning yet exiting the championship on the one day was a strange feeling he felt. “This is our third Sunday in a row, to be beaten like we were last week and then to do what they did today, to get up off the floor and do that really reflects the courage and the character of our players, we’re so proud of them and our county should be proud of them not some of the stuff that was said over the last few weeks”.
Along with Gerry O’Connor, he will meet with representatives of the County Board to discuss their future and whether they will seek a fourth year in charge of the senior hurlers. Regardless of the outcome, he emphasised their record in Munster during their tenure. “We’ll take stock, we started to win back some respect in the Munster championship, the best part of a decade went past and Clare weren’t able to win a game in Munster. When we started, the first thing we said we’d try do is win respect in Munster, we had two bad outings in three years and they cost us, today the lads did us proud”.
Moloney concluded, “We said at the start we wanted to get a Munster championship record and get Clare winning games in Munster, we’ve won six in the last three years and contested two Munster Finals and died with our boots on, Clare haven’t had a record in Munster like that since the nineties. We set out our stall and we’re very proud with how the players went at it today”.