HE WAS THE unlikeliest of hurling heroes in the unlikeliest of hurling years.
Before there was Shane O’Donnell and his hat-trick, there was Domhnall O’Donovan and his point.
And without O’Donovan, there would have been no Liam McCarthy Cup triumph for Clare.
As 2013 draws to a close, we reflected with O’Donovan on that famous point on September 8th, 2013.
Cork lead 3-16 to 0-24 as the clock ticks down
“I was looking around the pitch and a lot of Clare players had their heads were down. They were thinking the game was over. I looked at Brian Gavin and the whistle wasn’t in his mouth. I didn’t think he was ready to blow it up just yet.”
Deciding to run forward from corner-back
“I usually wouldn’t do that. You do these kind of things with the club and it doesn’t get recognised. At this stage we were gone and set to lose the All-Ireland by a point. I thought we might as well lose by two and I figured I wasn’t much use to the attacking side of things back there.
“I just saw space in front of me as I ran forward. Colin Ryan wasn’t in his position so that’s why I went to that part of the field. It wasn’t because I was looking for the ball, I thought that I’d just try to draw away some Cork defenders.”
The ball is pucked out by Patrick Kelly towards the Cusack Stand
“Patrick (Kelly) decided to hit it to me and it broke. I don’t think enough credit went to Patrick O’Connor for winning the ball. It went to Nicky (O’Connell) and three or four Cork players were drawn to Nicky. They thought he was going to shoot and people probably thought I won’t score anyway if I get the ball!
“The ball then came out to me. Growing up my left was always better even though I’m a right handed hurler now. Looking back at pictures, I never realised at the time how close Cork’s Stephen White got to me.
“It shows how fine the margins are. When it went over, I was just on top of the world. The whistle went and I fell to the floor, absolutely exhausted.”
Past scoring record
“I used to play wing-back or centre-back for the club Clonlara. Often you’d get a big of space and often you could hit over long-range shots. The year we won the Fitzgibbon Cup with NUIG, I managed to get two in the semi-final against LIT.
“So I had hit points before but I don’t have a reputation for it. You think about it, if someone had said a Clonlara player would hit a key score for Clare, you wouldn’t have picked me. Especially when we have Darach Honan, John Conlon, Colm Galvin, Nicky and Cathal O’Connell involved in the squad.”
The reaction to the point
“Everyone was buzzing afterwards. People can say we should have won but we nearly lost it. A few people came over to me in the dressing-room and just laughed. They never expected me to do that. It was great to get the reaction.
“There’s a few guys from the USA who are colleagues of mine in work in Dublin. They’ve have watched the Sunday Game during the year and then often told me on the Monday, ‘Hey Domhnall, we never saw you on the TV last night, were you even playing?”
“I was trying to explain that if a corner-back doesn’t feature in the highlights in hurling, it’s a good sign as my man isn’t doing much damage. But after the drawn final, they were all coming up to me. I was finally on TV!”
Shane O’Donnell becomes the star in the replay
“The way we ended up winning the final meant that Shane O’Donnell took the limelight off me. To score 3-3 was just a dream story for him. I helped us get the draw but Shane helped us to win the All-Ireland.
“You’d still have people saying it to me. Des Cahill mentioned Marty Morrissey’s ‘Holy Moses’ commentary of the point as one of his highlights of the year on Morning Ireland before Christmas. I hadn’t heard that commentary so I’d a laugh off that.”
“I won’t be thinking much about scoring next year. I’m happy in defence, can’t see myself venturing too far forward. When you can afford to leave someone like Darach Honan on the bench, it shows they’re okay for forwards up there. But of course it was a great moment. I won’t forget it.”
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