THE DAVID TUBRIDY story with the Clare senior footballers began in July 2007.
It was the era of the Tommy Murphy Cup, a time when the bottom tier teams were unwanted in the All-Ireland qualifiers and condemned to a secondary competitive life.
Clare were trying to gather themselves after being upset by Waterford in the Munster quarter-final. It was Páidí Ó Sé’s solitary summer at the helm of the Banner, he introduced a 20-year-old at corner-forward that Saturday in Ardfinnan. Tubridy rewarded the display of faith with a return of eight points, six of those from frees.
That matched the exact scoring total posted by Declan Browne that afternoon. Tipperary’s greatest ever footballer retired a couple of days later, his last game coinciding with the first outing of another attacker that would have a profound impact on the fortunes of a perceived lesser light in Munster football.
And 14 years later, Tubridy’s star shows little sign of waning.
Yesterday in Ennis, he also fired eight points over the bar, again six of those arriving from frees. There was a goal thrown into the mix as well and if Clare did lose the game to Cork on the day, the scoring heroics of the 34-year-old helped preserve their top two position and a promotion play-off spot.
David Tubridy scores from the penalty spot for Clare in Ennis.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
The key aspect now though is the level that Clare are operating at. In that first breakthrough summer for Tubridy, their lowly league status removed the right to feature in the main Sam Maguire race.
Now they are a win away from being a member of the top eight in the country in 2022.
Tubridy’s persistence has counted for something. His first seven campaigns in the league with Clare were all in Division 4. They eventually booked promotion in 2014, Tubridy kicking 0-7 in a final defeat to Tipperary.
Two years on they emerged from Division 3, with the bonus of a final success over Kildare in a Croke Park encounter where Tubridy contributed 0-5. They have remained in Division 2 since, consistently competitive and aiming to graduate to that elite level.
Now a major opportunity has arisen, when they face Mayo on Sunday week after a strong run of form since emerging from lockdown.
In Clare’s opening two league games, Tubridy had struck a combined total of 0-4 with just one of those from play. The Doonbeg man came off the bench at half-time against Laois before starting against Kildare. His colleague Eoin Cleary took much of the attacking plaudits with 0-17 over the course of the two matches, the centrepiece being that exquisite sideline kick against Laois.
Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO
But yesterday Tubridy exploded to life. His first point was a stunning score off his left from just inside the 45-yard line. His clever run off the ball resulted in the foul that saw a penalty awarded, which he then slotted home for the only goal of the game. He swept over another point from play off his left. Then came two pointed frees with right-footed shots, one curled over from the left wing and the other nailed from 45 yards out.
And he rounded it off with the critical pass in a Clare counter-attack that moved them upfield, releasing Gavin Cooney for a lovely point. It was 1-5 to 0-5 in favour of Clare at the first water break and Tubridy’s fingerprints had been all over their scoring return.
In the second half he helped keep the scoreboard ticking over from a Clare perspective with a series of points from dead balls.
It was sufficient to prevent Clare from suffering a defeat of the magnitude that would have knocked them out and seen Cork advance.
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And it paves the way for a schedule of glamour meetings. Mayo in Ennis on Sunday 13 June to determine their league fate and Kerry in Killarney on Saturday 26 June to commence their championship aspirations.
The scale of those challenges is obvious but Tubridy has spent enough of his career operating away from the limelight. The retirements of experienced stalwarts Gary Brennan and Gordon Kelly over the winter have left Tubridy as the county’s longest-serving campaigner. He began under the stewardship of Ó Sé, progressing through the guidance of Frank Doherty, Micheál McDermott and Mick O’Dwyer, before the Colm Collins era commenced.
David Tubridy with the GAA Player of the Month award in March 2010.
Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO
Back in March 2010, Tubridy won the GAA’s Football Player of the Month award. He initially thought the call to inform of that honour was a wind-up by one of his friends. It took a congratulatory text from then Clare team liaison officer Tom Downes, for the realisation to sink in that he was being recognised.
It was easy to understand why considering some of the scoring exploits at the time – the 1-11 tally in Clare’s 1-13 to 0-15 win over Carlow, including the entire first-half figure of 1-8, and a burst of 2-5 out of the team’s 2-7 return when they lost to Limerick.
If he was flying below the radar then, his attacking prowess is more widely-known now.
And with a shot at securing Division 1 football, there is a big prize at stake.
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