Brendan Bugler sounds a note of hope as Clare look to stay on song
After some dark days, the All Star knows his county are moving in the right direction
Brendan Bugler of Clare in action against Cork in this year’s National Hurling League. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Summer licks the leaves on every tree and bush as Brendan Bugler pulls up a stool and plonks his keys on the table. He’s been supervising exams all day in Scariff, himself and two dyslexic students in a room together. The job is a little different to general supervision, in that he’s there to read the questions out for them if they have trouble making the words go in.
For the past nine months he’s been teaching in Portarlington but this is his last act of education for the summer. Once the exams are done, he’s a hurler. Maybe a farmer too the odd day he’s needed at home but a hurler first and last.
“I can go down to the handball alley when I want to for an hour. I can go to the gym during the day if I want. I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to do teaching because of the June, July, August factor. No point denying it, it’s so complementary to the hurling.”
Thing is, hurling for Clare these past few years hasn’t exactly put the calendar’s generosity to its fullest use. He may be free in August but he has yet to hurl for his county in that month. Since joining the panel in 2007, he’s never won a Munster championship match in July either. At 27, he’s the second oldest player in the squad – Pat Donnellan has a month on him – and yet it feels like it’s really only now that life is beginning.
Beating Waterford three weeks ago was just his seventh championship win in seven seasons, yet even just that paltry fortune makes him Daddy Warbucks among his peers. Donnellan has five victories to his name. Fergal Lynch has six but has always either come off the bench or finished the game there. Whatever way you spin it, these are players approaching the brow of the hill. While a big future for Clare would be nice and all, the present is unrelenting.
An All Star last year, Bugler has been around for most of the sorrowful mysteries of the past. Games where they gave big teams a rattle but never looked like winning, games where they gave not-so-big teams no game at all and watched their summer fizzle out like a rushed screenplay. All indications are that those days are gone – or going at least – but even so, he’ll have war wounds to tend for a while yet.
“The problem was, it was the second games each year that was letting us down big time. We were getting hammered in the qualifiers so it made us look worse than we were. We got a hockeying against Galway (in 2011), we got a hockeying against Dublin (in 2010). They were hard to take, very hard to get your head around.