Raising the Banner: How Clare’s Class of ’92 Shocked Gaelic Football

Over the last 30 years, we’ve gotten used to Marty Morrissey getting excitable on the busiest of days. But there had to be a first time, and it was a special pleasure to have his native Clare involved.

On 19 July 1992, the Banners met champions Kerry in the Munster final. At the time, Kerry was chasing her 64th Munster title. Clare had been a world champion once – back in 1917.

But they were headed by an army man from Mayo, and John Maughan was extremely ambitious. He also didn’t mind stepping on tiptoe and using his approach to wind down some club managers – including Morrissey, who was then in charge of Kilmurry-Ibrickane.

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“The training program he put in place with Clare was cruel. Running on the beach and sand dunes,” he said.

“We had three players on the panel and there was some disagreement between me and John about their availability for the club. He didn’t get any of it – ‘they’re with Clare and that’s it’.”

At the time, Morrissey was working with RTE Cork and had covered some Clare games earlier in the year.

When they ambushed Kerry, the football world was stunned, and the commentator came up with a line that was quickly immortalized – “No cow will be milked in Clare for a week.”

But Morrissey wasn’t surprised by Clare’s rise like many others.

“They had reached the All-Ireland B final and things were building. Clare was in a decent league, Kerry was in transition. Jack O’Shea was nearing the end and a couple of young lads were beginning.”

It’s been 30 years and many of the 1992 lads will meet Derry ahead of Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Derry are favourites, but both played in Division Two this year. Clare will feel like they have a puncher opportunity.



Clare celebrates her victory over Roscommon in the final round of qualifying and meets Ulster champions Derry in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals at Croke Park on Saturday.
Clare celebrates her victory over Roscommon in the final round of qualifying and meets Ulster champions Derry in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals at Croke Park on Saturday.

You’ve felt this way many times since changing your mindset in 1992. It might have started with a stunt, but it took a stunt to give the Clare footballers a jolt.

Maughan had only been appointed manager in the winter of 1990.

The players knew little about him other than the fact that he had played for Mayo, was in the Army and at 29 was as young as some of the players.

He had called a training session for Ballyline after he got the nod and the players’ jaws hit the ground when Maughan came through the door.

He was wearing a Mayo jersey. There was a method to the madness though… Maughan took off his jersey, threw it on the ground and slipped on a Clare shirt.

“Guys, I’ll always be from Mayo, but when I’m down here, I’m a Clareman.”

Defenseman Seamus Clancy became one of his key players and he could see the wisdom behind the stunt.

“It was kind of a religious thing,” he said, “an act to show us that he was with us all the way.”

In doing so, Clare would lead to the Munster title within 18 months – quite possibly the most extraordinary coup in GAA history.

A day that forced Kerry to stop taking success for granted.

He ended up having such a stellar career that it’s easy to forget that Seamus Moynihan made his Kerry debut on one of the county’s darkest days.

What is striking about the old footage of this game are the clips of Jack O’Shea.

Moynihan played in midfield that day while O’Shea was up front. O’Shea would turn 35 later that year.

He had been on the Kerry board since 1976 and this was to be his last game.

He walked away after the bleakest day in Kerry’s history. So big was this Sunday in 1992.

Ger Loughnane would never classify himself as a football man, and he explained the divide in the county.

“There is a niche in Clare for football,” he said.

“Football is primarily a West Clare thing, but they’re also big fans of hurling in that part of the county.

“The opposite is not the case. The people of East Clare have never supported football the way Westerners have supported hurling.

“Even if the people of West Clare move east to Ennis or wherever, they remain incredibly loyal to football. It’s in their blood.”



Clare's Jamie Malone celebrates with manager Colm Collins after her win over Roscommon at Croke Park.
Clare’s Jamie Malone celebrates with manager Colm Collins after her win over Roscommon at Croke Park.

Loughnane was in the crowd at the Gaelic Grounds when Kerry was shocked by the banner and relished the enthusiasm.

“I’ve only seen this team once – and that was on their biggest day. It was just coincidence that I was there at all,” he said.

“On the Wednesday before that game, Clare was beaten in the Munster U21 hurling final at Thurles – and I was the manager.

“It was the disappointment of losing the game – rather than the consequences – that left me with very little enthusiasm for any sporting event, let alone a Gaelic football match.

“However, it turned out to be an extremely enjoyable and enjoyable experience.”

Could there be a repeat on Saturday? You’ll fight back, that’s for sure.

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