PETER DUGGAN HAS had some year in the Clare jersey.
Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO
It ended in a heartbreaking one-point defeat in their All-Ireland semi-final replay meeting with Galway in Thurles and while there is still that sense of disappointment, the Clooney-Quin star is pleased with his contribution and his individual progression.
Things were very different this time last year.
“I was close enough to packing it in,” Duggan admitted this morning as he collected his PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month accolade for July. “Very close.
“I’d say if Clooney didn’t go well last year, I’d say I wouldn’t have went back. I was on the panel a long time and I couldn’t really make the break on.”
Thankfully though, the 24-year-old attacker shone as his club reached their first county final in 75 years and that gave him the confidence to pursue his inter-county career for at least one more year.
“It’s a huge commitment,” he explains at the close of his seventh season. “You’re a hurler before anything else. If you’re a teacher, the first thought people look at you — you’re a hurler. It’s very tough then, no one really cares what you’re at outside of hurling.
“All they ever ask you (about) is hurling, hurling, hurling. When you’re on the fringes then, it’s very tough because you’re still putting in the same hours but you’re not really getting any game time. It’s very hard to stay going at it.
“When you’re not able to contribute, it’s just tough to take really. You’d be low, you’d be down.”
With fans after their All-Ireland championship exit.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
He recalls one phonecall in particular which helped him make up his mind. He reached out to his older brother Martin over in London, an All-Ireland intermediate winner with Clare himself.
“‘I remember ringing the brother and he was just like, ‘Peter, go full hog for a year. If it doesn’t work out, if you don’t make it again this year, we’ll leave it at that and you can’t say you didn’t try. But just go full hog and see what happens.’”
And that’s what he did. All in.
He says he didn’t do anything majorly different. He always trains hard, but confidence was a big thing. Surely scoring 2-76 in seven matches for Clooney over the championship helped.
- 2-13 against Feakle in a group stage game.
- 0-12 against Clonlara in the semi-final.
- 0-10 (0-8f, 0-1 ’65) in the drawn final against Sixmilebridge.
- 0-10 (0-6f, 0-2 ’65, 0-1 sideline) in the replay.
“Lucky enough I had a little bit of confidence and things kind of went a little bit my way this year compared to other years where they wouldn’t,” he smiles.
“I was just lucky really.”
Scoring the point which leveled the 2017 county final.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
If he had to have thrown in the towel, he grins that he might have moved to Melbourne. That said, he’s not 100% sure what he would have done but he knows he wouldn’t be where he is today, reflecting on ‘one of the greatest’ summers of hurling ever.
Duggan’s personal highlight was beating Tipperary in Semple Stadium and knocking them out of the championship but for many others, the player in question was the subject of a special moment of magic.
That wonder point against Galway in Croke Park.
He’s seen it a few times, but is as modest as can be as he reflects on the moment.
“I didn’t think that’s what happened at all, looking back on the TV like,” he continues. “I didn’t realise what happened, I just thought I hit the ball over the bar.
“I can’t really think back on it too much now. I didn’t know if I gave away a free or someone gave away a free, but I thought there was some sort of a free supposed to be going – if it was me for steps or for pulling, I don’t know what it was.
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“I just remember seeing a small little bit of a breakthrough and I said, ‘Ah sure look, I’ll give it a go and see if it goes over’. I think in my head I thought for some reason I had an advantage so it was a kind of a win-win. Shoot, sure look. Shoot for the craic and see what happens like, we might have a free anyway.”
Peter Duggan with a lovely skilful point. pic.twitter.com/gOME4yoYJU
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He adds: “Ah look, it’s cool. It’s nice to have a little bit of a thing to look back on. But at the same time, you’d sacrifice 100 of them for getting into the All-Ireland final.
“It’s a small little novelty to have to look back on that you got a cool score but at the same time, still in the back of your head, it kind of hurts.
“Imagine if we got another one of them we would have been in the All-Ireland final.”
The Holy Grail. He comes back to it several times during the conversation, and rightly so. Like when he’s asked if he enjoyed the year on an individual level:
“It was nice to be able to start a few games anyway. At the same time, you’d give it all back for that All-Ireland. That’s the pinnacle, that’s what you want.
“In general, I’m somewhat happy to have a starting place. It makes it easier.”
He was on the All-Ireland-winning squad in 2013, it was his ‘first real full year’ as he puts it. Not a bad place to start, he agrees, but concedes that perhaps it’d be more significant to him now rather than back then.
“To win it now, would mean a lot more and it’s the same for everyone on the Clare team,” he adds.
“That’s our main objective: to get back and win another All-Ireland. It would be something special.”
For now however, all he can do is watch on as his Limerick neighbours bask in the glory after they ended a 45-year wait for the Liam MacCarthy Cup on Sunday.
Lifting the Liam MacCarthy in 2013.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
Duggan is good friends with Diarmaid Byrnes so he’s pleased for him in particular, among others. Gracious in victory, humble in defeat.
“Absolutely thrilled and delighted for them,” he says. “It’s brilliant to see them get what they deserve.
“I think every inter-county team, most deserve getting something from it. You put so much time and effort into it. We were lucky enough in 2013 but it shows how hard it is because we haven’t been able to get back to that All-Ireland final since 2013.
“It’s tough to take that Limerick did win but at the same time, it’s brilliant for them. I’m delighted for them to have won. Looking back, we had so many opportunities to be in the final with them but we weren’t really clinical enough to hit in a final blow or anything.
“Ah, but in general no, delighted for Limerick.”
But there’s a raging fire in his belly to go again. And emulate his neighbours’ feat.
– Additional reporting by Fintan O’Toole
– This article was updated to correct the length of Limerick’s wait for All-Ireland SHC glory.
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