And so Clare are 2013 champions having beaten a gallant Cork team 5-16 to 3-16 in a hugely entertaining All Ireland hurling final replay, writes Ciarán McGowan.
These Clare lads are brilliant hurlers that play with such abandon and coolness that it’s hard to see any team living with them. Cork’s manager Jimmy-Barry Murphy, gentleman that he is, acknowledged that Clare are a “superb team” as he paid tribute to his own charges who contributed to one of greatest games in recent years.
The potential of this Clare team cannot be underestimated – it is rare that a single team can field such an array of raw talent. There is a concept in soccer called ‘total football’ whereby all outfield players are capable of slotting into every position on field. By its very nature, hurling normally demands specialism in key roles so concept of ‘total hurling’ is far more challenging. However, this Clare team has requisite breadth and instinctive talent to bring wonderful game of a hurling to a new level and introduce ‘total’ concept. They can all hurl, they can all tackle and on evidence of this year, they all take scores from out field. There will be challenge of ‘hunger’ and whether they can return next year with same determination and commitment that stood to them at key moments in this year’s campaign. Only time will tell, but for now I congratulate them and their supporters on a truly epic and memorable win.
And so that brings us to end of a fantastic summer of Gaelic sport. Dublin and Clare write themselves into history books and we head into a winter with talking points, memories and emotions that will sustain us through our hibernation. Have a peaceful winter and don’t forget – there’s always next year!!