THE highlight of my career has to be the 1995 All Ireland Hurling final win for Clare.
My abiding memories are of the build-up to it. It was all new to us. And then I remember the colours and bunting and flags everywhere — and there we were afterwards trying to lead a normal life.
We were a kind of team of no-hopers before the 1990s. Then Len Gaynor came along as manager and picked us up off the floor and made us into hopers. He introduced new young lads and even spoke of winning the All Ireland, rather than just having pride in wearing the jersey. I was around 25 and he had a massive influence on how we trained.
Ger Loughnane took things to new extremes when he took over as Clare manager in 1995. There were changes in training and in diet — but also in our attitude and psychological preparation for a game. We were asked to do things in training that were unheard of back then — getting up at 6am to run up and down a hill in Shannon 30 or 40 times. It was army-style training and Loughnane drove us on and we became ambitious and actually saw ourselves as winners. He was the best manager we ever came across.
I’m an emotional person. I do cry sometimes, like after we win a match. Or at funerals. That’s why I prefer to go to the removals the night before.
I don’t think GAA is a particularly dangerous sport but I believe making the helmets compulsory was a good idea.
My worst habit is that I’m a bit messy. And maybe I was a bit too reliant on my mother and now on my wife Eilish in that area!
I started playing GAA when I was a youngster but I was a slow starter and a bit shy. I only began showing real promise around 17 or 18.
I’m not too bad at switching off when I get free time. I like the greyhounds — and coursing in winter.
I run the Anthony Daly sports shop in Ennis. Eilish works there too. We had a pub from 1999 to 2009. We still own it but I leased it out when I started as Dublin manager. The motorway has improved so much that I’m home earlier when I’m working in Dublin than I was when we ran the pub. It’s only about two-and-a-half hours from the Red Cow to Ennis.
It was a brave decision to open up Croke Park, and it was the right decision. Hats off to Sean Kelly for being the main man in that.
I have been a Cúl Camp Ambassador for three years. I have three girls and they all go to the Cúl Camps in the summer — they’re 12, 10 and eight — the level of coaching they get is incredible.
My speech when I accepted the Liam McCarthy Cup on winning the All Ireland in 1995 — with the quote that ‘there’s been a missing person in Clare for 81 long years’ — was one of the easiest I’ve ever made. I had a few words in my head, as I knew one of the teams had to win it, but I never sat down and wrote anything out. I was there shouting it out to over 20,000 people on the pitch and it didn’t cost me a thought, whereas a speech to even a couple of hundred people at a dinner dance usually has me worrying about it beforehand.
I feel happiest at home in Clare. It’s a slow paced lifestyle and I especially love the Kilkee Cliff walk.
* Anthony Daly is the Dublin hurling manager and an ambassador for VHI Cúl Camps where children can develop their GAA skills, keep fit and have fun. It is the largest summer activity for children with 80,000 participants every year.