Conor Ryan has revealed how Cratloe’s dual players made a private pact vowing not to allow their football heartache affect their AIB Munster club hurling bid.
More than two thirds of the Cratloe team that will take on Kilmallock in Sunday’s provincial hurling final were part of the football side that was defeated last weekend.
That unexpected provincial semi-final loss to The Nire ruled out the possibility of the Clare parish achieving a unique Munster club double.
But Ryan, an All-Ireland winner with Clare in 2013, says the reality is that this weekend’s encounter is still “probably the biggest day in the club’s history”.
As such, the dual players were quick to realise what is still at stake for the club in the immediate aftermath of the Dungarvan defeat.
“We said ourselves on Sunday that the mental thing could be (an issue), how much would the football loss play on our minds,” said Ryan.
“But we promised ourselves in the dressing room on Sunday that as of Monday morning, we’d wake up with a clear head and a clear heart and look forward to the week ahead.
“Joe McGrath, our hurling manager, has a great phrase, that if you try to live off yesterday’s dinner, you’ll starve. So it’s the same for winning and losing.
“You have to get over a win as quick as you have a loss. It was tough last Sunday but we were in a recovery session straight away and it’s been full steam ahead for Sunday.”
Refocusing is nothing new for Ryan and his colleagues. In fact, he revealed the staggering run of games he’s been involved in since Clare bowed out of the All-Ireland hurling Championship to Wexford last July.
“Since I lost that game to Wexford, I think I’ve played every weekend since with the club, bar one,” said Ryan. “Between league and championship we’ve had something every weekend since the middle of July.
“We had a championship game in football against Éire Óg the week after and from then on it was just every second game between hurling and football and we got into a rhythm and routine very quickly.”
Cork’s dual players from 2014 have all decided to focus on one code next season while Ryan’s own club mates, Podge and Sean Collins, were forced to choose at county level in Clare.
Despite being based in Galway, Ryan himself says he finds no great difficulty or hardship about serving two masters at an elite club level.
“People ask is it too hard but no, to be honest, I know it’s easy to say that, but personally it is true,” said the 23-year old Davy Stockbrokers employee.
“If that blue jersey isn’t the most important thing you’ll ever wear, then you’re in the wrong place.”
Meanwhile Kilmallock’s Graeme Mulcahy does not believe his club will have a huge home advantage by playing at the Gaelic Grounds.
“I think we’d be nearly twice as far away from the Gaelic Grounds as Cratloe are,” said Kilmallock’s county man Graeme Mulcahy. “Even a lot of their players would have gone to school in Ardscoil Rís which is just across the road. It’s in no way a home venue for us.”
Like Ryan, Mulcahy set out with realistic All-Ireland ambitions at inter-county level this year only to come up short. Limerick went out in a blaze of glory at least, with a narrow semi-final defeat to eventual champions Kilkenny, though Mulcahy says that wound is still raw.
“I couldn’t watch the final, knowing they were there,” reveals forward Mulcahy. “Kilkenny beating us ( and us having beaten Tipperary, we knew we were well good enough to be there. That’s a place we want to be next year when it comes down to it.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved