*Cian O’Dea competing against Tipperary in the 2019 NFL. Photograph: Martin Connolly
One point separated Clare’s senior footballers from advancing to the Super 8s for the first time, as the dust began to settle Cian O’Dea expressed his hope that they would bounce back and complete the achievement in 2020 with Colm Collins at the helm.
Speaking following Sunday’s defeat to Meath, Kilfenora’s O’Dea reflected to the beginning of their campaign in 2019 where qualification for the All-Ireland quarter-final series was listed as the main goal. “At the start of the year we set out to be competing in the Super 8s and it’s very disappointing to have played so well in the last three games to have to go home and build again for next year. Hopefully we’ll come back, we’re getting stronger every year”.
During this year’s championship, O’Dea has worn the number fifteen jersey but operated in a sweeper capacity, for him the timing and concession of Meath goals was influential in determining the result. “Two evenly matched the teams and the two goals were killers, the old cliché goals win games, we trade mark ourselves on being a goal scoring team but we couldn’t break Meath down. Obviously Meath are a top class team, they beat us already this year, I think the better team won on the day, that’s sport”.
He made his debut for the senior footballers in 2016, a year in which Clare would reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals but 2019 will stand apart as the one in which he became a seventy minute player and one of their top performers.
“Everyday you go out you try bring the Clare jersey to a better place, if you aren’t pulling your shift Colm will whip you off if you’re not performing, everyone has bought into Colm’s system and hopefully Colm will stay on for the next couple of years, he’s a great manager, everyone is giving their all for Clare football and it’s great to see all the fans here it was like a home match for us, any time we got a goal or a point the roar was immense”.
Though unsure on the possibilities of Collins returning for what would be his seventh season, it stood out along with making the Super 8s as the key objectives for Cian. “Being from West Clare Colm loves Clare football, I don’t know, we’re progressing again from last year, we only made round three last year, hopefully we can get to the Super 8s next year and Colm stays on”.