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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 17 December, 2018

Meet the Clare hurler who netted after 40 seconds of his championship debut

The youngster talks to us about the team’s preparations for Saturday’s All-Ireland final replay.

McGrath captained Clare to win the All-Ireland U21 title last year.
McGrath captained Clare to win the All-Ireland U21 title last year.

FOR A MAN of 22, Clare’s Conor McGrath has a significant amount of achievements to his name.

McGrath scored a goal after 40 seconds of his senior championship debut against Tipperary in 2011 (see below), while he also won an All-Ireland U21 title when still eligible for minor in 2009.

The player has only just finished college and is due to start work with Deloitte in Limerick in mid-October, but such thoughts are far from his mind this week.

And having already experienced one senior All-Ireland final, the youngster insists little will change in his preparation this time around, irrespective of the late start to the game.

“We’ll treat it very similarly, probably leave from Clare a couple of hours later than we have been doing but I don’t think it will make too much difference. The backroom team will have planned out what we eat, when we eat — that will be left to them, we’ll just do as we’re told on the day, treat it the same as the first day.”

And far from being nervous, the player describes how he revelled in the occasion.

“I thought the whole day was brilliant to be honest,” he says. “Even the half an hour out on the pitch beforehand, the noise, the atmosphere was just brilliant – I enjoyed the whole thing. Then the minute the match starts, you get your first touch and you’re involved, it just becomes a normal match. But I really enjoyed the whole experience.”

Clare had dominated large portions of the game, and McGrath admits it would have been difficult to take had they lost out — as they almost did — ultimately. Yet the youngster feels their opponents had a right to be equally disappointed.

“Yeah, we would have found it hard to stomach if we’d been beaten, but I’m sure Cork are disappointed to let the one-point lead slip so deep in injury-time. Although we’re disappointed not to have won the match, you can’t be too disappointed when you do equalise so deep into injury-time in an All-Ireland final.”

There has been some controversy about the scheduling of the All-Ireland final replay on a Saturday evening, however McGrath sees no problem with it.

“I don’t think that will make much difference. We played Cork earlier in the league in Páirc Uí Rinn under lights, played an U21 All-Ireland final last year against Kilkenny under lights. People say if the lights are switched on during the game it can make a difference but you don’t even notice it happening, to be honest.”

While it’s been a fantastic season for both Clare as a whole and McGrath personally, the year was not without setbacks, with the player having missed much of Clare’s league campaign with a hip injury.

“The start of this year, I had [my hip] operated on,” he says. “[It was from] wear and tear over the years. It wasn’t too serious, could have played on for another year but it was nice to get it sorted. I missed most of the league, great to have it done.”

“It was hindering me throughout last year a small bit, the best thing to do was get it sorted. I’m 100% at the moment.

“I suppose, the amount of training and the intensity of training nowadays, people are going to pick up small injuries. It was nothing too serious, just a couple of months out in many cases and that doesn’t do a player any harm, to be out for that length.”

And while after Saturday, most Clare players will be able to relax until Christmas, McGrath will have little chance to rest owing to his dual commitments with his club Cratloe.

“There are six of us involved with the Clare panel, all dual players; once Saturday is over we’ll be back club training on Tuesday night and it will be 100% focus on that. With all players, the club comes first — that would be my view on things anyway, and we’re 100% focused on both the hurling and football championships in Cratloe.

“We’d be delighted to be involved til Christmas! We lost our first hurling match so we need to win our next two – [we're] hoping for the best.”

YouTube credit: HurlingGoals

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Clare win would kickstart golden era, says selector Louis Mulqueen>

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TheScore Team

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