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‘The stuff of dreams’: Clare 19-year-old Shane O’Donnell after hitting 3-3

Teenage dreams, so hard to beat.

Shane O'Donnell: named Man of the Match for his electric performance in Croke Park yesterday.
Shane O'Donnell: named Man of the Match for his electric performance in Croke Park yesterday.
Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

SHANE O’DONNELL GOT a good night’s sleep. It’s not unusual for him to get nervous before matches but when he woke on Saturday, the morning of the All-Ireland hurling final replay, he felt fine.

Named among the Clare substitutes, all the 19-year-old could think about was when he might get the nod to come off the bench and play his part.

That opportunity came a lot sooner than he expected. He was getting some food a few hours before throw-in when manager Davy Fitzgerald pulled him to one side. He was starting at full-forward, not Darach Honan.

It turned out to be a masterstroke worthy of winning an All-Ireland. O’Donnell rattled in a hat-trick inside the first 20 minutes and set Clare well on their way to their first All-Ireland title since 1997.

When Cork threatened to close the gap in the second half, the Eire Óg youngster continued his electric performance with a few more points. He finished with a remarkable 3-3, the outstanding candidate when it came to picking a man of the match.

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INPHO/Ryan Byrne

“When we were getting food I got brought aside and told I was starting,” O’Donnell said of the build-up to his sensational afternoon.

“I didn’t know before that. Davy brought me aside and told me.

“I thought it was brilliant, I always wanted to start, but I was a bit surprised.

“In hindsight it made it easier,” he admitted. “I slept great and got up this morning and couldn’t wait for my chance to get on.

“Then when I was told, it was close enough to the game so I wasn’t too nervous or getting tight about it. I was just excited to get out.”

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INPHO/James Crombie

Did Davy Fitz have any late words of advice for him?

“He just said do what you always do and go for goals. Sometimes they don’t work out but they did today.”

By his own admission, O’Donnell isn’t great at taking points and so he likes to go for goal instead. Before yesterday, he had scored five times in this year’s Championship; three of them were goals.

In the U21 final against Antrim a fortnight ago he scored 1-0 before he was taken off in the second half, presumably in case he was needed as a wild-card for the replay.

From subs bench to starter to hat-trick to man of the match, it was a dream afternoon for Clare’s teen hero.

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INPHO/Ryan Byrne

“It’s unbelievable, you can’t describe that kind of thing,” he said.

“You literally dream of that from when you’re a kid, going up to the Hill after scoring a goal.

“There’s always a delay between when it hits the net and when they roar, it’s absolutely amazing.”

When he wakes up this morning, he might need to pinch himself.

“If I had a dream last night that I was going to score 3-3 I would have woken up thinking, ‘That’s ridiculous. I’d be happy with one.’

“It really is the stuff of dreams since you’re five or six and pick up a hurley.”

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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