*Conor Cleary. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Winners of the title for the past two years, St Josephs Miltown head into the 2020 campaign hoping to retain the Jack Daly cup.
Manager: Maurice Reidy
Selectors: David Talty (coach), Mike Howe, Paudie Carey (S&C)
Captain: Seanie Malone
Most recent: 2019
Key player: Eoin Cleary
Fresh Blood: Cian Mahoney
However, completing a three in a row of successes for the first time in the club’s history is something that is not being discussed within the club according to this year’s team manager Maurice Reidy.
“We have been preparing for the first round of the championship and that’s it”, the manager said this week but he did concede that the fact that they are playing their neighbours and arch rivals, Kilmurry-Ibrickane “does add to the excitement”.
Between them the neighbouring clubs have won the last five county senior titles. Miltown ended a twenty five year wait when winning the title in 2015, beating Cooraclare by four points (0-13 to 0-9) in the decider. A few years earlier they had lost their senior status but they bounced back straight away with victory in the intermediate championship.
“We would have preferred last year’s format but this year’s format has been forced on the clubs because of the Covid 19 virus. It’s the same for everybody and clubs have to respect the championship”, according to manager Reidy, a member of a prominent Miltown GAA family. Maurice succeeded David O’Brien as manager this year.
Because of long term injuries both Gearoid Curtin and Kieran Malone will not be part of the panel next week, the manager explained while midfielder in the winning teams of 2018 and 2019, Darrag McDonagh will also be an absentee next week as his work as a physiotherapist sees him based in London. Another member of the title winning teams of the past two years, Eoin Curtin has retired.
Incidentally Miltown completed the senior double last year as they also won the senior league (Cusack Cup) when they defeated Clondegad by a point in the decider.
Acknowledging that this “is the most high profile game of the opening round“, Reidy conceded that “it will be strange playing with no supporters in the ground. It will be difficult for all involved in an empty stadium. The club championship is a big deal for all clubs and parishes but with no supporters, at least in the early rounds, it will be very different this year but, look, it will be the same for everybody”.
Miltown is one of the oldest clubs in the county having been formed in 1887. The club enjoyed a particularly successful time in the ‘50’s winning two senior, one Cusack Cup (senior league), five minor and eight juvenile titles.
Over the years the club has provided many players to Clare teams and currently the Cleary brothers are key players with Clare with Eoin filling the captain’s role with the senior footballers while Conor is a regular with the senior hurlers. They will fill key roles this weekend as will Gordon Kelly captain for the past two years, Seanie Malone, Eoin O’Brien, Aidan McGuane and Brian Curtin to mention but some and they will be going all out to repeat last year’s final victory over their neighbours.