POSITIONING himself on the half- way line on the stand side of Mac- Donagh Park, Donal Madden was the picture of frustration on Sunday. His arm in a sling hidden beneath his Clonlara tracksuit after breaking a finger in a challenge game against LIT the week before, it was obvious from his movements that he was hit- ting every ball internally but knew he could not effect the game whatsoev- er. He beckoned encouragement and advise but as the game slipped away from Clonlara’s grasp, the tracksuit top came off as he ran up and down the line in the hope of motivating the players. In the end, the expected comeback never came and _ after- wards outside the dressing rooms, he conveyed his frustration and disap- pointment of the day’s events as he analysed the game.
“They probably got the goal that we needed. Darach (Honan) reck- ons the ball wasn’t wide but I felt it was wide being honest about it. They got the goal, we didn’t and that’s the difference between winning and los- ing. Personally I am just absolutely eutted. To be standing there on the sideline and to have absolutely no influence, it’s very, very hard and it’s probably one of the hardest days I have ever had in sport. It’s been a tough week and things had been go- ing well for us and I was hurling rea- sonably well but the whole thing just
blew up. It’s a pity because they are a great bunch of young fellas but the be all and end all is about the senior hurling next year. We lost today but I would like to wish Tommy Larkins the best of luck and probably the bet- ter team won being honest.”
Madden had further reason to be disappointed in not playing any part on Sunday. Along with missing his new club’s most historic day, the former Tulla player also has an un- tenable link with the Galway side as his father Paddy would have played for Tommy Larkins but he was still disapponted for the Clonlara play- ers and mentors who had put a lot of work into their successful year.
“There is a very narrow line be- tween winning and losing, it’s a game of inches. They got the break today. I’ve seen Tommy Larkins hurling about three times all year and they only played to about 70% of what they are capable of and hope- fully they will do themselves justice in Croke Park. Even chatting to Cyril Farrell there, they weren’t happy with their performance, we are not happy with ours but we can have no regrets because lads gave it their best. There are a great group of players and men- tors in Clonlara and hopefully this won’t be the end of this team.
“The lads are absolutely gutted and it’s not everyday that you get the chance to go on and represent your county and an opportunity to play in Croke Park. I’m fierce disappointed
for Niall Hogan and Jim Gully and these guys. We have trained for 150 times this year and Niall Hogan prob- ably did everyone of them himself. I’m just fierce gutted for that guy, he is a great guy.”
Croke park would certainly have been a fitting finale to a superb year for Clonlara but although Madden has famously played there before in the All-Ireland minor final of 1997, he is sure that the young stars of Clonlara will get their chance to play at GAA headquarters in the future.
“We are looking forward to next year and maybe I am pushing on or whatever and | may never again get a chance to play in Croke Park but I have no doubt that Domhnall O’Donovan, John Conlon, Darach Honan and Nicholas O’Connell will get to play in Croke Park and hopefully wearing a Clare jersey or maybe even a Clonlara jersey. I can’t see why they won’t go on to play in Croke Park.”
SW ilomCCeea Vo ncy-le Ceo MOO OOM AUD UNTocO Mme this year’s senior championship and the Clonlara’s prospects for the year ahead to which he quipped.
“Looking forward to it. Hopefully we ll get Tulla in the first round.”