Press Pass

Seamus Hayes, Clare Champion sports editor, on the heady Ger Loughnane days, email disasters and poorly planned media days.

Your first ever newspaper?

“The Clare Champion.”

Have you ever worked in a profession other than journalism?

“No. I joined the Clare Champion as a trainee journalist in November 1969 having completed a five-year term at St Flannans College the previous June when I sat the Leaving Certificate exam.”

What was your finest achievement playing GAA?

“Never got to any great heights. I won a Munster minor league medal with Clare in 1970 and was a member of my club’s [Lissycasey] Clare junior championship winning team in 1971, the first team from the club to win a county adult title.”

Most memorable match covered?

“The All-Ireland hurling final of 1995 ranks just ahead of the Munster senior football final of 1992. Prior to those breakthroughs, Clare were generally the whipping boys in both championships.”

The one moment in football you would put on a DVD?

“Any of the scores by former Offaly forward Matt Connor. He was an outstanding forward.”

Best stadium?

“Croke Park.”

...and the worst?

“Thankfully there aren’t too many now. During the ’80s, clubs and county boards invested significantly in the development of facilities, making sure to include a designated press box area.”

Your best ever scoop?

“There was always something new to report on when Ger Loughnane was Clare manager and this was particularly true of 1998 when one controversy seemed to follow another. There was an exclusive almost every week in July and August of that year relating to the Colin Lynch and Brian Lohan suspensions and the early finish to the All-Ireland semi-final with Offaly.”

Your personal new-tech disaster?

“Shortly after switching from the typewriter to computer, I was reporting on a Munster minor championship game on a Wednesday evening. The Clare Champion is published on Thursdays so we were working against the clock to have the report included. I had the report finished and was preparing to send by e-mail back to the office when I must have hit the wrong button or not hit a button but all was lost and had to be redone. It turned out to be a rather late evening at work.”

Biggest mistake?

“Nothing stands out but I am sure there are people who will say otherwise.”

Have you ever been mistaken for anyone else?

“Not that I know of.”

Most media friendly manager?

“Clare’s All-Ireland winning U21 hurling manager John Minogue who has, for a number of years, been actively involved in managing various college teams with St Flannans and has always been amenable.”

Best ever player?

“In my time reporting on hurling, Clare’s All-Ireland winning centre back Seanie McMahon has stood out.”

Best ever teams (club and county)?

“I would have a special spot for the Clare All-Ireland winning hurlers of ’95 and ’97 but it would be difficult to nominate any team other than a Kilkenny side under Brian Cody. They have been outstanding.”

Best pre-match grub?

“Any meal my wife prepares on the morning of any game that involves a few hours travel.”

Best press box grub?

“Any venue that provides a half time cup of tea, particularly at National league time when weather is colder.”

Worst press box welcome?

“None stand out but there are some press box stewards who still have to check one’s Press Pass despite many years of visiting the same venue. A little bit of power...

Favourite radio/TV commentator?

“The two Micheáls, O’Hehir and Ó Muircheartaigh were outstanding.”

If you could introduce one change to improve PR between the GAA and press what would it be?

“In recent years the GAA has finally woken up to the importance of promotion by organising various media evenings ahead of championship games. However, they rarely consider the provincial media when organising such media evenings as they are generally set for just a few days before the game and, for the most part, too late to meet provincial press deadlines. A change is required here.”

One sporting event outside GAA you would love to experience?

“The Masters golf in Augusta.”

Last book read?

“Not a major book reader but Christy O’Connor’s The Club on a year in the life of St Josephs, Doora-Barefield.”

Favourite current TV programme?

“Seó Spóirt on TG4, even though my Irish isn’t very good.”

Your most prized GAA memorabilia?

“A cutting from the Irish Press from 1977 or Con Houlihan’s article following Clare’s league final win over Kilkenny.It was superbly written and captured the atmosphere of what was a special occasion for all Clare hurling followers.”

Advice to any would-be GAA writer?

“Always make sure your report is factual. Accuracy is vital.”

nLast week Offaly reporter Mary Dunne referred to an 80-minute match in 1980. She was in fact referring to the 1970 Leinster final which Meath won by a point.

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