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ClubSpotting with Eoin Cleary

Clare have went about their business in the league with little fuss, although when you consider that they could be a Division 1 team after this weekend if they beat Mayo, it’s a wonder there hasn’t been more noise about it. One particular Clare man left ‘Irish Twitter’ with their jaws on the floor, after a video surfaced of his sideline kick off his trusty citeog against Laois. Eoin Cleary has gathered many fans over the past few years with some brilliant individual performances and again has been a stand out performer for the Banner County in this years league. Miltown Malbay is our latest stop, to go ClubSpotting with Eoin Cleary.

1. What are your first memories of your club St. Joseph’s Miltown Malbay?

The manager I had for the majority of my underage career was John Sullivan and he used to bring us all over the country playing challenge games. Playing against teams in different counties you’d pick up different things that you mightn’t have seen in your own county before which was a huge help to my own career. I was a goalie up to ten years of age until I was lobbed in a u10 West Clare final against Cooraclare, my current team mate Seanie Malone still hasn’t forgiven me for it!

2. Who were your sporting idols growing up?

At county level Padraig Joyce(Galway), Stephen O Neill (Tyrone) and Ross Munnelly (Laois) were all heroes of mine growing up. Eoin Curtin from my own club was a guy I looked up to as well he was a brilliant footballer. Outside of GAA I was a huge Sonia O Sullivan fan and what she achieved throughout her career was incredible.

3. What has been the proudest moment of your playing career?

In 2016 beating Kildare in the Division 3 league final and beating Roscommon in Pearse Stadium to make the All Ireland Quarter Final were both great days, they were both serious teams so to get a result in both games was hard earned. In 2018 we won the senior county final beating Ennistymon and that was the first county title I was a part of where I got to share it with my brother on the field at the final whistle. Getting to have those moments is what makes the GAA so special.

4. Toughest opponent you have faced?

At county level I’d have to say Chris Barrett (Mayo)- I marked him in 2017 and thought he was a brilliant defender and deservedly got an All Star the same year. At club level id go with Martin McMahon (Kilmurry-Ibrickane) - very smart defender, not many in the country can read the game like him.

5. Best player you have played with?

This is a tough one because I’ve been lucky to play with so many brilliant footballers with different teams. Gary Brennan, Jamie Malone, Gordan Kelly and David Tubridy all are guys who have been on a different level whilst playing for Clare. When I played with the Garda College, Darren Gallagher (Longford) and Tommy McDaniel (Westmeath) were two lads who really stood out to me. My own brother Conor deserves a mention here as well he has been our best player with the club over the last number of years, a real leader. Very tough to narrow it down to just one guy and I’ve left out a lot more who would make their place on any team.

6. Any pre game rituals or superstitions?

My girlfriend Collette makes a good Chicken Curry with sweet potato fries the day before a match so I’d eat that and head back to Miltown to my parents house as I’m currently living in Limerick. I wouldn’t be superstitious or have any pre game rituals but lately if we have a home game I’d normally walk over to Cusack Park with Cathal O'Connor, we’d walk from the Old Ground Hotel while the younger lads in the panel would drive over to the ground. It’s probably a sign I’m pushing on a bit!

7. What are your hopes and ambitions for 2021?

To be part of successful teams at club and county level. To continue to enjoy my football and have an injury free year. Only when you are injured do you realise how tough it is missing out playing with your teammates, it something you hate to see happen any player.

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