Inter-county star Shane Hickey on Sunday makes his sixth County Final appearance and he’s hoping it will be one to remember.
By Jamesy McConigley
A baron four years without a Clare SFC title has plenty talking around the county about the demise of Kilmurry Ibrickane but this has unfazed Hickey and his team-mates. “Criticism is hurtful but it comes with all sport and you have to expect it when you’re playing at a certain level. We seemed to be written off the last couple of years but we have worked hard to get back here.”
Having played over a decade of senior football for his adored club, Shane has impressed with flawless display this year for club and county. This Sunday he will face-off against his inter-county manager Colm Collins vying to become the top club in the top County.
Failing to win a Clare SFC title in the last four years has hurt everyone in the club, the versatile player believes they lacked one attribute in recent years. “In those three years we have been beating in tight games by just a couple of points and in all championship campaigns, you need to have a bit of luck and you need to have a settled squad and they’re probably things we didn’t have.”
This year the Bricks welcomed back key players such as Noel Downes who has recovered from a horrid spell of injury while Mark Killeen has returned after leaving for Australia in 2012.
A father-of-two, Shane is satisfied with their improvement in 2016, “I think it’s a combination of things. Firstly I think the management team have had a huge part (to play). Miltown winning last year may have motivated the older lads in the team a bit more and given us that bit of hunger that’s needed to get back here”.
Hickey is pleased to see their rivals back to their best too, “Miltown were good last year and even if they’re our neighbours, it’s good for Clare football when a team like that wins.”
Kilmurry’s performances have shown togetherness in their four championship games so far but the West Clare side illustrates the tag ‘family-club’. “We’re a very close bunch and have grown up together and are connected throughout the club. For that I’m very grateful for what the club has given us and that’s why the jersey means so much to me and the boys”.
He will line-out on Sunday alongside his two brothers, Niall and Darren by his side. But it isn’t just the three boys who will be active come the weekend. “My mother, Anne Hickey is always throwing holy water over boots and gloves and anyone who calls into the house come the mornings of county finals”.
Funnily enough he hopes for more than Holy Water at the weekend “I’m just hoping for a night’s sleep Saturday night, my two year old Caoimhe doesn’t seem to care at all about the final.”
Relaxation is key to succeed and having already played in five Clare SFC Finals, a lot has changed since his first Final appearance in 2004, “I used be able to go for a game of golf or head to the cinema the night before a final with the lads but with two kids now, the mind is well and truly away from the final until Sunday afternoon”.
Hickey believes that Cratloe will be a difficult assignment than any other game they have played this year. “Cratloe are a fine side and have been hard to beat in the last couple of years, winning Jack Daly twice recently. We’ll have to improve on the semi-final and individually we all, including myself, have to step up and match Cratloe’s work-rate”.
Whether it’s a swim in Seafield or winding with his two children the Clare Senior will be ready for Sunday where he will fight tooth and nail for every ball.