Killian Clarke is doing his family proud in Australia
By John Harrington
When Cavan’s Killian Clarke was told he had made the final cut for the Ireland International Rules squad, he immediately phoned his father Sean to relay the news.
To describe Sean Clarke as a football enthusiast would be very much erring on the side of caution, and Killian wasn’t long on the phone before he started wondering whether he or his father was more excited about the prospect of a International Rules series in Australia.
“My father was pure delighted with the news,” Clarke told GAA.ie. “When I told him first I told him he had to keep it quiet because I was told a few days before the official announcement.
“He was itching and ringing me every few hours to ask me could he tell such and such. And I was having to say, 'No, you can't tell anyone!'
“He's actually flying out himself for the series, him and the brother. He's delighted, there's a good contingency of people from my club at home, Shercock, living out in Perth.
“He'd know a few of them from playing football with them so he's going to meet up with them and the brother is in the same boat. He can't wait to get out there.”
Sean Clarke was never going to miss the opportunity to see his son pull on the green jersey and represent his country.
He's a pure die-hard. I'd say he hasn't missed a game in five or six years.
Anytime Killian plays a match, Sean is there, and the small obstacle of a few thousand air miles was never going to stop him this time.
“He's a pure die-hard,” says Clarke. “I think through College games, club games, and county games, I'd say he hasn't missed a game in five or six years, easily enough.
“There would have been a few dodgy games up around Derry and places like that and he'd be organising a bit of work up around Derry to make sure he could be there!”
It’ll make the experience all the more special for Killian knowing he’ll have family in the crowd when Ireland play Australia in Adelaide this Sunday and then in Perth the following Saturday.
And having just missed out on selection for the 2015 series – he made the reserve panel but not the match-day panel – Clarke is determined to put his best foot forward in Australia.
“It's a big deal for me,” he says. “It's one of the greatest achievements I've had as a senior footballer along with being named captain of Cavan.
“I'm not taking it lightly. I'm just really looking forward it, it should be a great experience.
“I'd be of the mind-set that you just have to go out there and enjoy yourself on the pitch. Just show everyone what you can do.
“Because if you start thinking it over and over then you nearly drain yourself and you wouldn't do yourself justice.
“So my mindset going out there is that I'm going go out there, enjoy myself, get up the field as much as possible, and just express myself.”
He believes the same attitude is one the entire Cavan panel should embrace in 2018.
We've no more excuses, we just need to bite the bullet and get on with it at this stage.
Like many of his team-mates, the 24-year-old Clarke is now coming into his prime, and he believes it’s time the Breffni County finally turned potential into achievement.
“I've no more excuses now,” he says. “Everyone telling us we had this great U-21 team and it would take us a few years to get it moulded into the senior team.
“I think I've been listening to that talk for three years now, but, no, we've no more excuses, we just need to bite the bullet and get on with it at this stage.
“The commitment level from the lads can't be questioned. It's just having that bit of confidence, that bit of belief in ourselves to push on and start getting the wins.
“Because we're putting in the effort. Our stats aren't too bad. We can definitely tighten up in a few different aspects, but it's just little percentages here and there that will finally get us over the line hopefully.”