We’ve reached the attack in the quest to select Clare’s greatest senior football team of the past three decades.
Voting closes for all positions on Tuesday. It is still possible to have your say on who should line out in goals, defence and midfield if you haven’t submitted a vote.
A debutant in 1993, Denis Russell is one of few individuals to captain the Clare senior footballers to a national title in Croke Park. He was centre-forward on the John Kennedy side that claimed the Tommy Murphy Cup (All-Ireland B) in 2004. The St Senan’s Kilkee man also lined out alongside his brother David (nominated at midfield) at club and county level. He scored 1-06 when Clare won their first ever qualifier tie, beating Sligo in 2007.
Although the result of the 2000 Munster Final doesn’t date well, the contributions of Peadar McMahon en route and in the decider do. The Kilrush Shamrocks man chipped in with 0-02 in both the semi-final and final of that year. A teacher in Barefield NS, he is heavily involved with St Josephs Doora/Barefield. His last senior championship appearance for the county was in 2003.
Shane McGrath’s father John of Kilmurry McMahon played for the county for fifteen years and also represented Munster. Shane joined the panel in 2012, lining out in a Munster Final that year. The Thomas Davis’ clubman was a member of Pat Gilroy’s Dublin panel in 2010. He was a central part of the 2016 side that contested the All-Ireland quarter-final, scoring the winning point in their qualifier win over Laois, the defeat to Kerry that year was his final appearance in the county jersey.
1987 saw Francis McInerney make his senior debut at the age of 21. But it was five years later when he had the honour of becoming only the second man from the county to lead Clare to Munster SFC glory. The Doonbeg man also won five McGrath Cup titles during his time on the senior panel.
Now part of the senior management, Enda Coughlan was one of the squad’s longest servants up until his 2016 retirement from inter-county football. He lined out at all grades for Clare and in a multitude of positions. He was part of the 2007 side that tasted the county’s first qualifier win and also won an All-Ireland B medal three years earlier.
Current captain, Eoin Cleary has only played at senior level under one manager, Colm Collins and has been one of the key men of Collins’ tenure. Having made his debut in 2014, the St Josephs Miltown attacker has been to part of the side that has climbed from Division 4 into Division 2.
A decade after making his senior inter-county debut, Gerry Killeen collected a coveted Munster SFC medal. He missed a penalty on the day but a long-range free of his was finished to the net by Martin Daly to seal the win. He scored 1-03 in the semi-final defeat to Dublin in 1992. A year earlier, the Doonbeg man was captain of the Clare side that won All-Ireland B honours.
For nine years, Alan Clohessy lined out at senior level for his county. The Liscannor made his championship debut against Limerick in 2003 and concluded his days in saffron and blue following the 2013 qualifier defeat to Laois which also brought an end to Mick O’Dwyer’s time in charge of Clare. Clohessy was not part of the 2009 panel but captained the side in the 2012 Munster final.
Nominated for an All Star last year, Jamie Malone made the step up to the senior side having impressed at minor level. He made his senior debut in 2014, a year in which they narrowly lost to Kildare in the qualifiers. The Corofin man was to the fore during Clare’s campaigns of 2016 and 2019.
It was 1991 when Padraig Conway first lined out for the Clare senior footballers. That year, they were crowned All-Ireland B champions, a year later they became Munster champions and on both occasions the side was captained by Conway’s Doonbeg clubmates. Conway chipped in with 1-02 as Clare came to within five points of Dublin in the 92 All-Ireland semi-final.
While a member of the Clare U21 panel in 1993, Ger Keane was also recruited to the senior side. Part of the attack during the 1990s, Keane’s quick-thinking led to Martin Daly’s match-winning goal in the 1997 Munster semi-final against Cork but his plethora of scores also proved vital. A year earlier they brought Cork to a replay in the Munster SFC. The Kilkee native later served as a senior selector to both Mick O’Dwyer and Colm Collins.
Winner of a Sigerson Cup with IT Sligo, Rory Donnelly was part of the Clare senior squad from 2003 to 2015. During that time, he won an All-Ireland B championship scoring 0-02 from corner-forward in their win over Sligo. The Cooraclare attacker first played under John Kennedy for the Banner and lastly under Colm Collins.
1993 marked the year in which Odran O’Dwyer made his inter-county senior debut. The Mullagh man had represented his county at all grades and remained with the seniors until 2006. He scored 1-01 when Clare claimed All-Ireland B honours in 2004 while he also togged out on Munster Final day on two occasions. The Kilmurry Ibrickane clubman represented the Irish international rules team in 2003.
From Clarecastle, Stephen Hickey won a Clare SFC medal with Éire Óg in 2006. He made his debut for the county seniors in the 2001 championship, coming on as a substitute in their four point to Cork. He was sprung from the bench in their next outing, a two point qualifier defeat to Clare and scored a point. Hickey secured a starting jersey as the years progressed and was a chief scorer in times when victories were hard to come by. He was centre-forward when they won the Tommy Murphy Cup.
David Tubridy joined the senior squad in 2008. Four years later, he kicked the winning score to see them return to the Munster SFC final for the first time in twelve years. The Doonbeg sharpshooter has been on the team that has climbed from Division Four past Division Three to Division Two. Now thirty two, the resident full-forward had been in top form during Clare’s current League campaign.
Some of Martin Daly’s scores are iconic in the annals of Clare football. He scored a goal in the Munster final of 1992 coming from the bench, he also netted a green flag in their 1997 Munster SFC semi-final win over Cork while he is the only Banner footballers to have successfully back-heeled a point in the championship. The Lissycasey man also represented Ireland in the 1998 International Rules.
For many Clare football fans in 1992, the highlight was undoubtedly the provincial glory of that year. But for Michael O’Shea becoming an U12A medallist was right up there, two years later he captained the St Senan’s Kilkee U14s when they defeated Éire Óg in the decider. As the years progressed, he lined out for county teams and was a member of the senior panel from 1999 to 2014. He scored 0-04 in Clare’s 2012 Munster final loss and captained the county in 2008. He died in August 2018 following an illness.
Keelan Sexton had the distinction of playing minor, U21 and senior for Clare all in the one year when initially bursting onto the scene in 2015. Changes to GAA rules mean nobody else will complete this feat. Sexton was part of the 2016 side that reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals, his assist for Jamie Malone in the Roscommon win powering them into the last eight. He was on a J1 last summer but returned to the county panel in time for the 2020 pre-season.