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19th Nov 2014

Anthony Daly on Dublin, Loughnane and ‘puking before peaking’

Clare legend hopes good will cancel out bad after six-year term with Dublin

Kevin McGillicuddy

Anthony Daly sits down and, before we hit record, tells me he has a welt in his finger from signing ‘about 600 books this morning’.

It’s clear that Daly, or ‘Dalo’, the title of his recently published autobiography and more common nickname, is well liked all across the country.

The former Dublin and Clare boss admits that he could have written a book earlier but felt that coming into 2014 after a Leinster title win with Dublin under his belt that maybe now was the time to put pen to paper.

He reveals that it was at times a frustrating process: “I saw the initial draft and I was thinking this isn’t going to work at all. But I felt that if you agree to an interview then why do it if you’re not going to talk. So me and Christy (O’Connor, the book’s ghostwriter) worked through it.”

The book culminates in Dublin’s exit from the championship at the hands of Tipperary, just weeks after Daly felt his side had performed well in a Portugal training camp.

The season according to Daly “petered out” and adds that “the prince doesn’t always run away with the princess, you don’t always get the happy ending” but feels that over his six-year term “some of the good should cancel out a lot of the bad.”

When pushed on where he felt it all went sour for Dublin in 2014 he reveals that the side were almost too tuned in to beating Wexford in their Leinster semi final and that perhaps the players felt they had the work done in reaching either an All-Ireland quarter or semi final.

Kilkenny were waiting for revenge after their loss to Dublin in the 2013 championship and Daly admits he knew before the game that things were not quite right in the camp:

“It just wasn’t as intense as I would like. Right from myself down, we were all in it together but we just didn’t win enough battles.”

Dublin suffered a 12 point reversal to the Cats and had a three week break before an All Ireland quarter final with Tipperary.

According to the two time All-Ireland winner, the Dubs’ confidence was holed below the waterline and there was “a bit of psychological damage done from the Kilkenny game” ahead of the Thurles showdown. He feels the squad made silly mistakes and reverted to their 2012 form-a season that saw them dumped out of the championship by Clare after losing to Kilkenny by 2-21 to 0-9 in the provincial semi.

He describes the loss to Tipperary as a better performance than the defeat to Kilkenny even if they lost by 13 points but says “the scoreboard can make a liar of you sometimes.”

He feels the win over Waterford in the relegation play off in the league was one of their best performances but ruefully adds about the whole of 2014 “maybe we were peaking when we should have been puking and puking when we should have been peaking”.

Dublin manager Anthony Daly dejected 7/7/2012

Daly’s relationship with the Dublin county board is explored in the book but there is no doubt that the problem of players choosing one code over another in the capital is one that caused some difficulty for the Clarecastle native.

He feels that “Dublin have to come up with a solution” but doesn’t feel a suggestion that underage players choose football or hurling before they are minor is the answer.

He admits there is a “glamour with the football that hurling is yet to get to” and had hoped after 2013’s success the hurling set up would attract more players but hopes Ger Cunningham can work around the problem.

The Corkman is new man at the helm and Daly has wished him well. He has heard there is a good buzz in the camp: “I was there for 6 years and things just needed a freshen up.”

Daly’s life story would be incomplete unless a huge amount of any tome on his career would feature the saffron and blue of Clare.

Daly led the county out of the wilderness in 1995 to Munster and All-Ireland glory and followed it up just two years later with another All-Ireland title. The Messiah-like figure of Ger Loughnane was at the helm for both successes and hovers over almost every page in the book. But the relationship was not always smooth one between the two – especially when Dalo took over as Clare boss in 2003.

Daly admits that some of the criticism from the Feakle man hurt him “more than it should” but that Loughnane was hugely supportive of Daly when in charge of Dublin.

The 1994 All Star corner back admits that everyone in Clare was shocked by the revelation that he was to undergo treatment for leukemia in 2011 and that all his former players rallied around him.

He describes their relationship in a colourful way:

“It’s like a fecking marriage when ya have an argument, but if you’re committed and you know what the other person means to you in terms of what they brought for you…and it cuts both ways for players and manager. Ger took it to another level with Mike (McNamara and Tony (Considine) after great work by Len Gaynor.”

Daly admits that he had concerns about writing about their relationship but when speaking to Loughnane recently was told “there’s no point writing comics…you have to tell the story as you see it.”

Anthony Daly of Clare celebrates. 14/9/1997.

The strength of Daly’s wife Éilis and family is evident throughout the volume and their support is put into stark contrast when the rumours about Daly’s off-field life were circulating.

He deals with whispers of marital problems and domestic abuse and the low point of being accused of  being “a wife beater” in the 1998 Munster Final against Waterford.

Daly did ask his wife Éilis if it would be okay to include the painful personal stories and he said that she gave him her full support and that “we could have left it out..but she said it’s your book and we went with it.”

Daly has only been out of the managerial game for a few short months but was most recently linked to the Galway position in the autumn time.

He says he was “flat out” with the book since the end of Dublin’s involvement but there was “no concrete approach from Galway-a few clubs did approach me to put my name forward but when I saw the championship draw and Galway up against Dublin I said aren’t I glad I didn’t announce publicly I’d love to have a go at it.”

He feels that down the line he could be tempted back at some level but for the moment “I’ll let the hare sit and I’ll have a few pints for Christmas and see what way things will be then.”

Typical Daly, relaxed and engaging but you can see the fire burning in his eyes to be out on a  hurling field and not signing books, getting welts in his hand from sliothar rather than a pen.



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