*Daire Neville, Marc O’Brien, Jamie Moylan, Sean Arthur, Eoin Begley, Eoin Carey, Michael Collins & Matthew O’Halloran. 

CLARE’S MINOR hurlers are playing with a sense of camaraderie that epitomises the strong bond within the panel.

This connection is aided by the high volume of panellists attending the same schools. St Flannan’s College have ten representatives on the panel with eight squad members attending Ard Scoil Rís.

Recording a Munster semi-final win over Limerick was extra special for the Clare players attending Ard Scoil, a total of eighteen students from the secondary school on the North Circular Road in Limerick were part of both set-ups.

Included in the Clare contingent are Marc O’Brien, Sean Arthur, Jamie Moylan, Matthew O’Halloran, Michael Collins, Daire Neville, Eoin Carey and Eoin Begley.

Five of them, Newmarket-on-Fergus’ Arthur and the Cratloe foursome of O’Brien, Neville, Moylan and Carey spoke to The Clare Echo in advance of Sunday’s All-Ireland decider. From the get-go of the conversation, their bond was visible to see.

Sean Arthur (SA) – “It was just great to beat Limerick in that semi-final. When they got one up on us in the round robin they let us have it below in school. We laid into them in Cusack Park and by God did we sow it into them in school the day after. It was great to walk around the school knowing we had knocked them out but it wouldn’t have mattered for much if we didn’t go on and win the Munster Final. Silverware means you will always be remembered”.

Marc O’Brien (MOB) – “A lot of us started together at five years of age learning to play in the Cratloe academy. Then it’s playing in the primary school with teachers coaching us before hurling together with Ard Scoil since first year. It’s an amazing bond and gives you friendships for life. We are used to playing beside each other and we all know what each other is going to do. The buzz in school after becoming Munster Champions was one incredible day, a day we really enjoyed. It was amazing to walk around the whole school as champions. The banter was great but there was also genuine congratulations from everyone in the school”.

Daire Neville (DN) – “Everyone makes a contribution from lads who are starting to lads who are brought on to finish the game. We have a great closeness and we nearly all marched into school the morning after we beat Limerick in unison because they had given it to us after the round robin game in the Gaelic Grounds so revenge was sweet and we let them know”.

Jamie Moylan (JM) – “We really enjoyed going into school after that semi-final but to walk in there as Munster champions was really special. It takes a while for it to sink in but we were ten feet tall the following day because we knew we were champions and we let the Limerick lads know but it’s great banter between us. We hurl together for the school and give it our all but it’s gloves off when you play for your county”.

Jamie Moylan clears his lines. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Eoin Carey (EC) – “We definitely underperformed in the Gaelic Grounds and it was tough going into school the following day but we got the performance right in Cusack Park and I don’t think I had a better morning going into school the next day”.

Each of the lads have different roles in the team but one can tell from their attitude that they’re all rowing in the same direction. O’Brien arguably has extra pressure on his shoulders as the side’s freetaker.

MOB – “I just stick to my routine to be honest. It’s a case of taking my five breaths and finding a spot behind the goals. That’s what I do. I block out everything else pick my spot and aim for that. I read somewhere a few years ago that if you have a routine and follow that routine consistently then you forget about the importance of the free and just concentrate on getting the strike right. Someone has worked hard to win that free so then it’s my job to slot it over”.

Marc O’Brien splits the posts. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Ever-present at wing-back, Moylan has made many contributions defensively this season but he also played a part in Eoghan Gunning’s wonder point in the All-Ireland semi-final.

JM – “It’s great to have lads like Eoghan around. What a hurler he is. I think my pass to him was a bit overhit to be honest but he controlled it incredibly and by God did he bang it over. We have a great core to our defence with Eoghan, Ronan Keane and Hego (James Hegarty). They are unbelievable players and it’s amazing to be part of it. In fairness the whole team work hard. We are all in it together. We love playing with each other and wearing the county jersey”.

Work-rate is cited by Arthur as a major attribute to the Clare side.

Sean Arthur. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

SA – “You have to work so hard. I mean being in the half forward line involves tracking back and helping out the backs. You have to try get a hook or a block in. If you work harder than the opposition it gives you a great platform. Brian (O’Connell) has it instilled in us that it’s a squad game and whatever role we play it must involve hard work. You have to work or you won’t play. It’s that simple really”.

MOB – “We’ve massive belief in all of the players from one to twenty nine. Everyone will die for each other. We just have to win our individual battles. That’s what we as individuals must do and then as a team we just got to work harder than Galway. We are under no illusions that it’s going to be tough but we will tear into it from the first whistle until the end”.

JM – “Brian has said to us all year that we are going to win the All-Ireland. We know Galway have some outstanding forwards but we have six brilliant defenders. We felt all year that we had the potential to be champions and now we are only sixty minutes away. We will give it everything next Sunday and leave it all out on the field”.

DN – “We knew all year that we had massive potential. We just had to bring that potential to match days. We’ve done that so far and we are Munster champions so that gives you a bit more belief and confidence. It’ll be tough but we just have to focus on our game, forget about the occasion and the opposition and play our way”.

EC – “You’d have to think that because they will be favourites that all the pressure is on them so how will they react to that? We just have to, as our coaches keep saying, express ourselves and play our game. We can’t be worried about what they will do. If we play to our level we can definitely win”.

SA – “They’ve two unbelievable forwards in Niland and Rabbite but as Jamie said we’ve six outstanding defenders so two v six isn’t bad is it! No seriously though, we have to believe that we are going to do it and I think if we play our game we will do it”.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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