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"You knew you were working and dealing with a different breed, they wanted it more," Paul Clarke looks back on his O'Byrne Cup reign with the Dubs

Former Dublin star outlines what sets Jim Gavin apart

 

It's amazing what you can learn about someone from their Twitter handle – be it a nickname, their age or something that means a lot to them – and when you search for former Dublin star Paul Clarke, the year 1995 immediately comes to the fore.

That was the year Dublin ended a 12-year wait, deemed as a famine in the capital, for Sam Maguire and for Clarke it was a time when everything came together for him after some frustrating years in sky blue.

Scoring from play in every championship game that year, the Whitehall Colmcille forward, then 29, was playing the football of his career as the Dubs denied Tyrone their first All-Ireland crown, and a five in a row for Ulster counties.

It's funny what sticks out with some people from their playing days and when looking back at the '95 final it's not Charlie Redmond's sending off that he recalls, or Peter Canavan hitting 11 points, all but one of the Red Hand tally that day.

 

Redmond's red mist

Instead it was the immediate shift in Dublin's mentality when Redmond was given his marching orders and the responsibility which then lay in his hands with free-taking duties, a couple of which he spurned, before delivering the final blow to Tyrone's coffin in their 1-10 to 0-12 win.

"There was a bit of a mix-up over Charlie but if you look at the coverage straight away when he is sent off and goes off, a number of us in that forward line started pulling strings and pointing what had to be done," Clarke tells gaelicplayers.com

"Jason Sherlock, a young player like him, was very much included in that and we knew we had to work harder if we wanted to get over the line. Charlie was sent off and all of a sudden I was thrown in as free taker.

 

"A lot of people forget that I missed a few difficult frees under the Hogan Stand but I haven't, that could have been the winning of the game for us and I could've made it a lot easier. Thankfully, the head didn't drop though.

"I could've dropped it but instead I got into a good position and kicked the winning score, a really good score, from a position that I was comfortable in and that I'd practiced a lot in training. It sailed over and that was the final score of our championship."

After the euphoria of an All-Ireland win and receiving his first and only All-Star, Clarke was keen to push on the following year but instead he watched on from Hill 16 the following year alongside a handful of other All-Ireland winners.

Clarke didn't feature in the plans of new boss Mickey Whelan and when subsequent All-Ireland kingpins Meath put them to the sword in the Leinster final he went from being "on top of the world to crashing back down to earth".

 

11 September 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (843)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: 5.0
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EXCLUSIVE: "I'd be absolutely delighted for them but a slight bit jealous too I'm sure,” former Galway star David Collins on his emotions if Galway claim All-Ireland SHC title

 

 

WALKING away from the game you love is never easy and David Collins doesn't hide his struggles as Galway bid to break their 29-year wait for an All-Ireland SHC title without him against Waterford on Sunday.

 

For 13 years he soldiered with the Tribesmen as they flirted with Liam MacCarthy success but when you're time is up, there's no turning back and the former senior skipper has no regrets about his time in maroon and white.

 

It was his "lifelong dream" to climb the Hogan Stand steps on the first Sunday in September but with that ambition extinguished, the 33-year-old will put his full weight behind supporting the current crop, many of which he stays in regular contact with.

 

It's just over a year since his last Galway appearance, a late cameo as they fell narrowly to eventual champions Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final, and it's a strange position to be an outsider looking in as the county stands on the cusp of just their fifth All-Ireland crown.

 

"I do miss it," Collins says candidly. "I miss the intensity, I miss the competitiveness, the structure that it gives you. You lose a lot of discipline in terms of where you're going, what you're doing. When you're involved, you're so engrossed in hurling and that's one of the biggest issues at the moment that I see. 

 

"Everything revolves around it, you forget about your life, your family, your career and when you leave like I did you can be left with a hole or a void to fill, luckily I have the club and my job, which I lined up properly over the past two years because I knew my time was coming to an end.

 

"That's so important for players to realise that once it finishes, and it could finish at any time, it's crucial to have that there. It's not an easy transition period but you look back with fond memories and that's the one thing I'll always have."

 

 

The Liam Mellows clubman, who is

01 September 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (674)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: 5.0
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Ken McGrath breaks down the Galway and Waterford sides and gives his expert verdict on the All-Ireland SHC final

GOALKEEPER:

They are two very good keepers and Stephen O'Keeffe has been brilliant since coming on the scene. He stopped three bullets against Cork the first day and is probably underestimated but he never puts a foot wrong and is so cool under pressure.

Galway's Colm Callanan is an experienced keeper. He's brave and made up for an earlier mistake when he stopped Seamus Callanan at point-blank range in the semi-final and I see very little between this pair.

Advantage: No advantage

 

DEFENCE:

Darragh Fives was brilliant as sweeper the last day but Tadhg de Búrca will come back into the Waterford team with Darragh most likely picking up Joe Canning. Darragh is a serious player and has the potential to be as good as any player in the country if he can stay injury free.

Waterford's defence is hard to break down and they never waste a ball when they are playing it out from the back as they utilise the midfield a lot with short ball. They are trying the system the last three years and they now have it down to a tee.

Noel Connors is playing superb stuff and will probably be designated to pick up Conor Whelan but Conor Gleeson is a massive loss. He has done a marvellous job on every top forward in the country so far this year and it's hard not to feel sorry for him.

Gearóid McInerney is having a great season at centre-back for Galway holding the defence together with his ability in the air but Waterford might look to challenge his mobility by putting Austin Gleeson in directly on him centre-forward to move him around. 

Daithí Burke has been a revelation at full-back but with Aidan Harte playing sweeper, I'm not sure if Burke will stay at the edge of the square. Daithí might go marking and possibly pick up Pauric Mahony because Micheál Donoghue will be well aware that he cannot be left loose. 

While Galway have been playing with a sweeper a couple of times in this year's championship, Waterford are the best teammin the country at playing with seven defenders and playing that system so they have a small advantage in defence.

Advantage: Waterford

 

 

MIDFIELD:

Kevin Moran started a bit slow this year but he has gradually got his bearings right and delivered two huge performances in the last two games while Jamie Barron is the best midfielder in the country at the moment.

He took the Cork game by the scruff of the neck when it was still in the melting pot while he turned the tide against Kilkenny and set Waterford on to a famous win o

31 August 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (852)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: 5.0
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25 August 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (400)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: No rating
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This is the game, this Mayo team have beaten Dublin and Tyrone before but they've never been able to get over Kerry in the championship," former Mayo star Pat Fallon on Kerry vs Mayo

 

Twenty years have passed since Mayo's All-Ireland SFC final defeat to Kerry and Sam Maguire hasn't made the journey back to the west in the mean time but that still hasn't burned the flame lighting inside Pat Fallon and the former Mayo star sees a glorious opportunity knocking as they renew acquaintances with the Kingdom in Sunday's semi-final.

Fallon was a colossus throughout the 1997 campaign, earning an All-Star at midfield, but a Maurice Fitzgerald-inspired Kerry side proved too hot to handle in the final as they fell by three points, with the Cahirciveen forward clocking nine points in their 0-13 to 1-7 defeat.

The year previous Mayo recorded a rare semi-final victory over Kerry (before falling to Meath in an ill-tempered All-Ireland final replay) but amazingly, 21 years has elapsed without another championship win over the Kingdom.

That amounts to a lot of heartbreak but Fallon insists no amount of defeats can kill off Mayo's spirit and he's not one bit surprised that the current crop have made it all the way back to the last four, despite encountering much turbulence along the way.

"Nothing knocks the stuffing out of us and the lads have shown that as well, this team has a had a lot of knocks but we're fierce passionate about football and once the New Year starts, it's a new championship again and we don't linger too long on defeats," Fallon tells gaelicplayers.com.

"The lads that are playing now are competing on massive days and when you get to that and see the support that the Mayo fans have, the crowds that met us in Castlebar in '96 and '97, it just gives you great resolve to go and do it the next year, and the next year. 

"I don't think anyone that puts on a Mayo shirt ever looks back, maybe they'll look back with regret when they stop but while they're playing they're looking forward and seeing how they can get a little bit better, that's the driving force behind most footballers.

"Only one team every finishes the year on a high so if you're a county footballer in a team that's not winning a Connacht final regularly, how do you go back every year? If you're playing with Mayo and rated as one of the best in the country, you're only inches away and that's a great driver.

“The best sportspeople park what has happened and move onto the future. Roy Keane always said he remembers his disappointments more than his successes and the disappointment can drive you on further, it has definitely driven this Mayo squad further."

It's been a rocky road back to the semi-finals but Stephen Rochford's side are exactly where they planned to be at the start of the year and Balla clubman Fallon believes victory at the weekend could signal something special.

It's 66 years since Mayo last lifted All-Ireland SFC honours and Fallon feels their time time is now. "This is the game, if they can get over this they'll have huge belief going into an All-Ireland final," he says. 

"They've beaten Dublin and Tyrone before but this group hasn't beaten Kerry in the championship.

17 August 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (664)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: 5.0
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