Banner boss Moloney hails Donal Óg as the ultimate professional

Banner boss Moloney hails Donal Óg as the ultimate professional
Clare selector Donal Óg Cusack. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

HUGE dedication, skill-based coaching and a wicked sense of humour... they're the vital attributes Donal Óg Cusack brings to the Clare set-up.

That's the verdict of the Banner's joint manager Donal Moloney, who knows the Cloyne native better than most as they both work in DePuy in Ringaskiddy. 

“I've worked in the same place as Donal Óg for a number of years. He's brought a huge amount to Clare. He's a focus on skill development that's really important, a critical part of the game. He values that because the team he was a part of (in Cork) were renowned for their skill and their touch.

"He sees that as a differentiator and he brings that to his coaching philosophy," observed Moloney, who is his first year at the helm alongside Gerry O'Connor, at the Clare press conference.

"What Donal Óg did last year was very positively received by the management and the players. The improvements in certain players, in terms of their skill-sets... so from that point of view it was important to keep him involved."

Clare selector Donal Óg Cusack with joint managers Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor. Picture: INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Clare selector Donal Óg Cusack with joint managers Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor. Picture: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

When the draw was made for the Munster series, few envisaged a Clare-Cork showdown. It's a scenario that pits Cusack against his club-man and former Cork comrade Diarmuid O'Sullivan, who prowls the sideline as a selector alongside Kieran Kingston for the Rebels. Moloney explained there is no sense of divided loyalties. 

"He's the ultimate professional. He's a grá for this job now and he's a grá for the county. He immerses himself, whether that's with the GPA, in goal for Cork, or any other project. He's a guy with great resources and great capability. He's passionately immersing himself in our whole set-up. He's great fun to work with as well, he's a laugh, he's great dry wit and great humour, which is very helpful at times."

Both counties are buzzing ahead of the trip to Tipp, though it could have on Leeside if the re-opening of the Páirc wasn't delayed.

"We'd rather play them in Thurles than Páirc Uí Chaoimh. If we'd had to go to Páirc Uí Chaoimh it wouldn't have been an issue either, but you've got to be practical and say it would be an advantage for Cork. We like playing in Thurles. It's been good to us from an underage perspective over the years."

Moloney and O'Connor were given the Clare gig ahead of Anthony Daly on the basis of their outstanding pedigree with Clare's minor and U21 teams, five Munster titles and three All-Irelands. They've never been beaten on the big day in the provincial decider.

"This is a different ball game to underage. Having said that a lot of the personnel are the same, probably 80% of them would have been with us on the journey. The challenge is different, but the focus and preparation is the same. They've always managed to cope with whatever occasion was thrown at them and I think they'll do the same this time. Like U21 level you have to focus on every game, that it's do-or-die, we bring that same philosophy to it now."

The format could change next year, with a round-robin series mooted for the provincial championships. Moloney is undecided if the proposal will benefit hurling.

"I can understand the necessity to increase the number of games for the profile of hurling, but at the same time the Waterford and Cork game the atmosphere was phenomenal and it was throwback in terms of the magic of the Munster championship. They have a certain resonance and the question is would you lose that in order to increase the profile. That's got to be thought through. Is what you're getting better? Sometimes you make change to fix a problem and you create another one."

Tony Kelly of Clare in action against Paul Browne of Limerick. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Tony Kelly of Clare in action against Paul Browne of Limerick. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Before that, Clare are eager to seize this opportunity.

"You've got to have players who can differenciate themselves and be game-winners. As a county we haven't always had them and X-factor talent, irrespective of underage structures, you can't always create it. There are players like that in this group, their record shows that."

Can they prove as much against Cork this weekend?

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