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Marty Clarke On The Main Regret From Down’s 2010 All-Ireland Final

marty clarke

Marty Clarke has opened up on the big regret that he feels may have cost Down a sixth All-Ireland football title in 2010. 

Somewhat of a ‘prodigal son’ in the Mourne County, Clarke left the GAA behind following a glittering underage and schools career to try his hand at AFL with Collingwood Football Club.

marty clarke

Clarke adapted quickly to the oval-ball game making his senior debut less than a year after joining the club. However, Clarke took a two-year sabbatical from the AFL to return to Ireland citing that he missed playing Gaelic games.

The An Riocht man’s return sparked a revival in Down who went on the gain promotion to Division 1 before reaching the 2010 All-Ireland final where they fell to a heartbreaking one-point defeat to a Cork side desperate to get over the line.

The build-up to Down’s first All-Ireland final in 16 years centred on the cruciate knee ligament injury sustained by county captain Ambrose Rodgers while on club duty before their All-Ireland semi-final win over Kildare.

The in-form skipper would ultimately miss the All-Ireland final loss to Cork.

Speaking to Down GAA-based podcast “Load of Balls“, Clarke cited the decision to stage club games before the county’s biggest game in 16 years as a mistake that could have cost the county an All-Ireland.

“I remember personally being furious because I just didn’t see the need to do that,” said Clarke of scheduling club games.

“There’s no fingers being pointed here. But it was the first time Down had been in a semi-final in 16 years or whatever it was. I just felt that we had such good momentum, let’s just keep going here.

“So they played a club championship game and Ambrose did his cruciate in a game for Longstone.

marty clarke

“I just feel if we had Ambrose and we hadn’t played that round of championship games…because we haven’t been there since. Why did we need to play a round of club championship games, which were extremely important in their own right, but this was a year where Down had come from nowhere. We haven’t been anywhere near it since, I just didn’t get that decision at the time.

“I remember speaking to a few guys in the management team about it, saying ’I don’t agree with this’. And eventually I think that cost us. Because Ambrose’s form that year…he was the captain, you couldn’t have had a bigger blow and I just think…that’s a regret I had.

marty clarke

“Of course I’m not pointing fingers, I didn’t have a great final myself, but I just feel that that decision could have cost us an All-Ireland.”

With reference to not having a great final himself, Clarke puts this down to the stellar job done on him by Cork wing-back Noel O’Leary, a surprise match-up that Clarke admitted caught Down off guard.

“As a coach, but in any sport, there’s the hunter and the hunted,’ Clarke said.

“Are you going to be the hunter or are you going to be the hunted? I did feel from an early stage in that game, from a personal viewpoint, that Noel O’Leary, who matched up with me…who we didn’t predict, we did not think O’Leary would have come to me because he was doing a lot of rampaging forward that year. So it was a shock when he came to me.

“He just didn’t let up the whole game, he was hands-on, serious strong man, didn’t go forward at all so I couldn’t slip out the back on him.”

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