Clare are top of Division 1A after three wins from three and could finish the weekend four points clear if they win at Innovate Wexford Park and Tipperary lose to Kilkenny.
The Kilmaley club man is among a long list of players competing in Saturday’s Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup final who are unsure if they’ll be thrust back into action 23 hours later.
Kerry footballers Jack Barry and Barry O’Sullivan, along with Monaghan’s Conor McCarthy, were withdrawn from their respective team lineups last Sunday after competing in Saturday’s Sigerson Cup final.
Kevin McDonnell did feature for Sligo in their Division 3 game on Sunday having played for NUI Galway in the Sigerson decider.
“We’re training tomorrow evening (Thursday) and we’re going to decide then what the story is with the weekend,” said Cleary, who has started all three of Clare’s 1A games so far. “There’s four of us from Clare in UL and then there’s Tipperary lads as well and then there’s Wexford and Dublin lads on the DCU team that we play against.
“I remember at the start of the year when the fixtures were made, the final was down for this Saturday and there was a round of the league down for the day after, so it was made and known at the start of the year but it was just went with.”
UL and Tipperary players Jason Forde, John McGrath, Barry Heffernan, and Paul Maher won’t play for the county on Sunday.
Wexford’s Paudie Foley has, like Cleary, been an ever-present in defence for his county in the league too and doesn’t know if he’ll feature on Sunday.
“What has been said between myself and Davy Fitzgerald is, ‘Worry about Saturday and we’ll decide after that’,” said Foley.
“My full focus, and the same with the other Wexford players involved, is on the Fitzgibbon final on Saturday and after that we’ll worry about other things.”
Clare can perhaps afford to be without a number of players, and even lose the Round 4 tie, after putting six points on the board already with wins over Tipperary, Kilkenny, and Cork.
“It’s been a great start,” said Cleary, twin brother of Eoin who will play for the Clare footballers in Division 2 of the league in Down on Sunday.
“This time last year we only had one win in the league and that brings its own pressures with it. So it’s been a great start and we’re just trying to build on it now on Sunday.
“The first day against Tipperary, it was a very tight game and we got the win there. It was on in Cusack Park and we really felt that the home crowd behind us gave us great confidence. We brought that to Kilkenny then and the last day against Cork in Cusack Park again, when the game was tight, the Clare supporters really got behind us.”
West Clare man Cleary was called into the Clare setup after the 2013 All-Ireland win though the Banner have lost eight of their 13 Championship games since, drawing once.
They’ve yet to return to Croke Park either though the fine start to 2018 with a relatively new-look team has got supporters wondering if they’ve finally turned a corner.
“I suppose we as players have to look at that record,” said Cleary, a beaten Munster finalist last year. “We probably haven’t played to our potential on the big days. That’s something that we’re trying to rectify this year. That’s just basically what it is, on the big days as players we just haven’t performed.”