SEAMUS MOYNIHAN’S FIRST senior game for Kerry coincided with Jack O’Shea’s last.
It wasn’t an occasion for either to cherish.
But it is an afternoon that stands out in the Clare football narrative, a golden triumph on 19 July 1992, when they shocked Kerry at the Gaelic Grounds with a 2-10 to 0-12 victory.
It’s 25 years today since they claimed that Munster senior football title. Clare haven’t repeated the feat in the interim, it was only the second ever time they reached the summit in their province and considering the heavyweight force they knocked out, the magnitude of the feat increases all the more.
From the RTÉ vantage point in the stand, Marty Morrissey and Pat Spillane were calling the action, bringing a Banner and Kingdom flavour to the commentary.
When Gerry Killeen clipped the ball over the posts in the finale, there was a sense that Clare had wrapped up victory.
“Definitely the insurance point and I think I’ve just lost the commentator out of the box,” remarked Spillane.
Then Morrissey, who hails from the Kilmurry-Ibrickane club, made a famous observation when witnessing the riotous scenes of celebration after the match.
“And I can tell you that there won’t be a cow milked in county Clare for at least a week.”
It’s been a phrase that has endured when sporting triumphs are captured but it was a throwaway line by Morrissey rather than anything deliberate.Source: officialgaa/YouTube
“It’s amazing, every week someone says something about it,” Morrissey told The42 in 2012.
“I could be doing a game in Sligo, Kilkenny or Wicklow and invariably after the match some supporter will repeat the comment afterwards. And the thing is that I wasn’t trying to be smart or original when I said it.
“It the sort of phrase that I would have heard a lot at home in West Clare. If we won a match with Kilmurry-Ibrickane, some older lads would say there won’t be a cow milked in Quilty tonight.
“It was that simple. So I didn’t really think anything of it at the time. I guess it was just a quote that other people had not really heard.”
Kerry’s team that day could hardly be accused of lacking talent.
The match would mark the end of one of the most glittering careers in inter-county football. O’Shea was famed for his midfield displays but started at full-forward that day.
He retired with seven All-Ireland medals to his name along with the six All-Star awards that he picked up on the bounce between 1980 and 1985.
Half of Kerry’s starting defence that day would proceed to backbone the 1997 All-Ireland winning rearguard, a trio of North Kerry men in Stephen Stack, Eamonn Breen and Liam O’Flaherty.
In their attack Maurice Fitzgerald was in typical free-scoring form with a 0-7 haul and when Sam Maguire was finally landed five years later, Pa Laide and Billy O’Shea were also All-Ireland winners.
Moynihan would go on to become a lynchpin of Kerry football but for that game he was drafted in just a fortnight after finishing his Leaving Cert. The 18-year-old had been part of a Hogan Cup success a couple of months before with St Brendan’s Killarney and was a prodigious talent.
That Clare managed to unseat them was an extraordinary achievement.
It was only 13 years since Clare had shipped 9-21 in the Munster arena against Kerry, losing by 36 points on a dark day in the county’s football fortunes that was dubbed the ‘Miltown Massacre’.
A year previously they had lost out by 13 points to Kerry but Clare recovered in their first final in 43 years to land their first crown in 75 years.
The arrival of a 28-year-old Mayo native and Army man in the winter of 1990 had a transformative effect on Clare football.
John Maughan was appointed as manager with the introduction of the open draw in Munster also handing a new lease of life for the underdogs.
Maughan brought a huge level of organisation to the Clare setup, succeeding in uniting players who had been immersed in fierce club rivalries.
Improvement was gradual. They were victorious in the All-Ireland B championship in 1991 and reached a league quarter-final against Meath in Ballinasloe in 1992. By that summer’s championship they were poised to make their mark.
The nuts and bolts of that 1992 final are this. Clare clung to a one-point advantage at the interval but should have been further ahead with Kerry goalkeeper Peter O’Leary blocking Gerry Killeen’s penalty effort.
Yet they did hit the net in the second-half with Colm Clancy raising a green flag in the aftermath of O’Shea blasting a shot wide at the other end. Kerry cut the gap to two points before Martin Daly pounced on the end of a long delivery from Killeen to scramble home the second goal.
By the final whistle Clare were four points clear and captain Francis McInerney was hoisting the trophy into the air.
Their campaign ended at the next hurdle, Dublin winning the All-Ireland semi-final by five points but sampling the Croke Park stage in August ensured it was a memorable occasion for Clare football.
The memories of the Munster victory burned brightly and when the highlights of the game had been broadcast that July, RTÉ coverage ensured it would be remembered.
“I’ll never forget the reaction to it as something very unique happened on the Sunday Game that night with the highlights package of the being shown not once but twice,” recalled Morrissey.
“Some say it was due to the switchboard hopping with people demanding to see it again because it was such a shock Kerry being beaten
“There was another story that there was a power failure in some parts of the country during the first showing of the highlights.
“But regardless they were shown again and I don’t think that has happened since.”
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