IT WAS A throwaway comment.
A reflection of his joy at witnessing his county stage a most momentous upset as Clare claimed the scalp of Kerry by four points in the 1992 Munster final in the Gaelic Grounds.
But little did Marty Morrissey know that his post-match observation about the lack of farming activities that would ensue in the Banner county that night would still be part of the GAA lexicon two decades on.
“It’s amazing, every week someone says something about it,” Morrissey told TheScore.ie. “I could be doing a game in Sligo, Kilkenny or Wicklow and invariably after the match some supporter whose team 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.
“At the time I was still freelancing with the sports department, based with RTE in Cork. I didn’t move until 1994 into full-time. For that Clare v Kerry, I was just commentating to provide highlights for the nighttime Sunday Game show. Pat Spillane was with me that day as co-commentator and I remember him saying at one stage that I was close to falling out of the press box with excitement. We’d great fun and banter.”
Morrissey detected beforehand that there were signs of optimism about Clare’s aspirations.
“There was an air of confidence in Clare that I’d never seen before. It helped that Kerry were in transition despite having Maurice Fitzgerald, Seamus Moynihan starting out and Jack O’Shea coming to the end of his career. But Clare had also built up a pedigree winning the All-Ireland B title against Longford and earlier in 1992 losing the quarter-final of the league against Meath in Ballinasloe only by a few points.
“John Maughan had a huge influence. He was new to the scene and was brought into Clare through Noel Walsh who knew him from the Army. I was a selector with Kilmurry-Ibrickane at the time, we’d a player Aidan ‘Horse’ Moloney on the panel, and I knew that Maughan was giving Clare a whole new mindset. There was enough that day to suggest that we had a chance if we performed.”
They did just that, chiseling out a four-point victory after they overcame the setback of a Gerry Killeen missed penalty.
“During the commentary I thought this was a turning point and would turn the game in Kerry’s favor. Traditionally weaker counties need to score every chance that come their way but we were still in it at half-time with Tom Morrissey playing very well at midfield. Colm Clancy’s goal was very important and then he set up the second one for Martin Daly. Kerry for once couldn’t get above the gear that they were in.
“Within Clare it was hugely significant for football crowd which probably always felt they were the poorer relation in the county. I know Ger Loughnane would have seen the Clare footballers training below on the hill in Shannon and could where they were going and what progress they were making. I think that stung the hurlers into action and obviously they went on to great things.”
“And as a Clare man it was a marvelous occasion to be present for. 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. 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 and 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.”
Their adventure came to an end at the All-Ireland semi-final stage against Dublin but that game still holds special memories for Morrissey as he recalls the sea of Clare jerseys around the ground and the superb sportsmanship displayed by the Dublin fans at the Hill 16 end with their post-match applause. Tomorrow another Clare venture to the Gaelic Grounds in the hope of another momentous Munster final triumph. Once again the odds are stacked against them as they collide with a powerful Cork team.
But Morrissey has seen good days for Clare football at the Limerick venue in recent years with his club Kilmurry-Ibrickane winning the Munster club final in December 2009 and the All-Ireland club semi-final in February 2010 in the stadium on the Ennis Road. Work commitments means he will be in Croke Park for tomorrow’s Leinster hurling final but he will be there early to get a good vantage point for the television coverage from Limerick.
“There will be a good crowd from my own parish going with Enda Coughlan on the team and Martin McMahon also on the panel. Enda is of good football stock, his grandfather is from Skibbereen in Cork and his uncle Dermot was a sub on the Clare 1992 team. The Gaelic Grounds have been good to Clare football and hopefully that can continue. Look they’re up against a really serious contender for the All-Ireland title and it’s going to be a huge challenge. But they were outsiders in 1992 as well. I’ll be supporting them from afar and hoping history can repeat itself.”