Ahead of this Sunday’s clash between Clare and Waterford in Thurles, this week’s Throwback Thursday looks at the last year Clare won a game in Munster and to a story that has gone full circle since then.
The Gaelic Grounds in Limerick was the setting on a fine summer’s afternoon. 2007 had arguably been the year when Waterford looked most impressive. They won the Munster Championship, beat Cork after a replay in Croke Park and looked primed for a real assault on Kilkenny and the Liam McCarthy Cup.
They fell short to Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-final of that year and many felt that they had left an All-Ireland behind them. 2008 was a new year though, and people eagerly awaited to see what the Déise would bring to the table.
Clare, for their part, had not been overly impressive for a while. A 2002 All-Ireland final appearance was followed by a near shock almost being pulled off against Cork in the semi-final of 2005. Outside of that, it was a baron period for Clare hurling.
Anthony Daly had stepped down as Clare manager in 2006. Tony Considine lasted one year (2007) before Mike McNamara took the reins in 2008. Most people expected Waterford to kick on from 2007. However, that was not the case as Clare put up a big score and easily accounted for Waterford.
Newcomer Mark Flaherty struck an early goal for Clare while the likes of Diarmuid McMahon, Tony Carmody and Tony Griffin got back to the form that made Clare All-Ireland contenders in previous years. Waterford failed to get any momentum going and didn’t recover from their slow start.
Another goal from Niall Gilligan early in the second half gave the Banner more breathing space. Clare built a gap and maintained it for the rest of the game as they ran out relatively comfortable winners in the end by 2-26 to 0-23.
The game will always be remembered for the fallout that occurred after the game, however. As the match concluded Dan Shanahan was withdrawn and there is a famous image of Shanahan walking past Justin McCarthy without shaking his manager’s hand.
After the game the Waterford players rebelled against their manager and decided they wanted Justin McCarthy out. They felt he had taken the team as far as he could and asked for change.
McCarthy vacated the position, and who took over but a Clare man by the name of Davy Fitzgerald!
Ironically, Davy Fitz would take Waterford to the All-Ireland final that year, where they took a heavy beating at the hands of Kilkenny. The odds on Waterford reaching an All-Ireland final after that Clare game were very slim though, so in many ways it was a remarkable turnaround.
The match also seemed an appropriate throwback for the week as Davy Fitz will now lead Clare into battle against Waterford. A similar number of scores this weekend would go down nicely. Let’s hope it will be a tighter affair!
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena
The latest episode of The 16th Man GAA Podcast by Pundit Arena is now available to review, with plenty of discussion and debate about this weekend’s busy Championship schedule.