Anthony Daly: the man, the captain, the friend, the manager, the motivator
The Clare hurling disciple has made a huge impact in his years as Dublin manager
Clare captain Anthony Daly celebrates victory over Tipperary in the 1997 All-Ireland final at Croke Park. Photograph: James Meehan/Inpho
“There has been a missing person in Clare for 81 long years. Well today, that person has been found alive and well . . . ”
Anthony Daly, September 1995, addressing Clare hurling supporters.
Cold case files
He has been in Dublin six years now looking for that same missing person. Drives up from Clare several nights a week to lead the search party.
Has already found Bob O’Keeffe, who’d be missing for 53 years.
An expert of the cold case, if you are lucky in life you have encountered a friend/coach/boss like Anthony Daly.
If not, you know him when the adrenaline is sky-high after a game, when quick-witted words can sound like the wailings of Charlie Manson or an old culchie sage.
It’s hard to decipher insanity from wisdom.
But if you know a man like him, you will see how he rises in the early hours, be it after a night on the tiles or a ridiculously taxing day of sport.
You will see what others so rarely do. You see the indescribable.
Daly could be Yeats’ Fiddler of Dooney. He who goes before Peter sitting in state yet doesn’t have to cadge his way into the big house. Brother and cousin, priests both, must sit in the sauna of purgatory, sweating out their sins, while the rogue, if ever there was one, is asked first through the gate.
For the good are always the merry, save by an evil chance
You know not of the Dublin hurlers seeking him out this past winter to ensure the crushing, premature defeat to Clare in Ennis was not the end of their music-making together.
We don’t know Anthony Daly. But Fr Harry Bohan and Ger Loughnane do. We asked these pillars of Clare hurling about their former captain. The man who led The Banner into the battle that broke the curse of Biddy Early.
“I saw him not staying on after last year,” said Loughnane. “Portlaoise was bad but to be in Ennis that night and to see how bad it was it seemed like the wheels had not only come off the wagon but had got smashed and could never be used again.
“I think a few things changed his mind. First, he didn’t make an instant decision and secondly the players in Dublin wanted him back. That was the vital thing.
“I think they realised they were responsible for the flop.
“But it was tough when he went back. Think about Tipperary and the first day against Wexford.”
Loughnane described Dublin’s hurling that night as “pure constipated”.
“As John F Kennedy said (a new generation of Americans) ‘tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace.’ Well, his team had been tempered by defeat, by hardship.
“That’s what makes Dublin so strong now; that they have come through that hardship.”
Father Harry has been a fundamental part of Clare hurling since the 1970s. Alongside Loughnane in the 1990s, he came back into the fold when Daly took over from 2003-06.
“Whenever things had to be done with players on the quiet Anthony did them,” said Fr Harry. “When players needed to be kept together and kept happy and making sense of what Ger was at Anthony would often put them onto a bus and take em off. Get them to talk it out among themselves.
“He’s an unbelievable communicator. He has a dictionary with words.
“Ah, Anthony Daly is a very, very exceptional man. He has a great soul and I don’t mean that in a religious sense, but in a deep sense of people.
“You remember the free he took in ’95 that won the All-Ireland?
“I said to him one time, when the two of us were chatting one evening, ‘Mother of God, you must have a brass neck that you walked out past Seánie McMahon, the best free-taker in Ireland at the time, and said you would take that free.’