Graham Clarke (hurler)

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Graham Clarke
Personal information
Sport Hurling
Position Goalkeeper
Born (1974-03-27) 27 March 1974 (age 43)
Ballygalget, County Down
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Club(s)
Years Club
1990-present Ballygalget
Club titles
Down titles 10
Ulster titles 2
All-Ireland Titles 0
Inter-county(ies)
Years County
1995-2012 Down
Inter-county titles
Ulster titles 2
All-Irelands 0
NHL 1
All Stars 1

Graham Clarke (born 27 March 1974 in Ballygalget, County Down) is an Irish sportsperson. He plays hurling with his local club Ballygalget and has been a member of the Down senior inter-county team since 1993.

Playing career[edit]

Club[edit]

Clarke plays his hurling with his local club in Ballygalget and has enjoyed much success. He first came to prominence on the club’s minor team in the late 1980s. He served as the goalkeeper on the team that captured four consecutive county championship titles in that grade. Clarke later joined the club’s senior team and became the first-choice goalkeeper at the age of sixteen. He won his first county senior championship winners’ medal in 1990, following a defeat of Ballycran. Clarke later lined out in the Ulster club final, however, Dunloy were victorious by 0-17 to 2-4 .[1]

Two years later in 1992 Clarke added a second senior county title to his collection. Ballygalget, however, were subsequently defeated by Cushendall in the Ulster club final.[1]

Clarke’s side went into decline following this defeat as Ballygalget lost the next four county championship finals. The team bounced back in 1997 and a defeat of Portaferry gave Clarke a third county winners’ medal at senior level. Ballygalget made it two-in-a-row in 1998 before later lining out in another provincial club decider. Ballycastle McQuillan’s provided the opposition on that occasion, however, after a draw and an exciting replay that featured extra-time Ballygalget were the victors by 1-14 to 1-12.[2] It was Clarke’s first Ulster club winners’ medal. Ballygalget were subsequently defeated by Rathnure in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Ballygalget made it three county titles in-a-row in 1999, with Clarke adding a fifth county winners’ medal to his collection. His club subsequently surrendered their Ulster club title to Cushendall.[2]

After a period out of the limelight Ballygalget returned in 2003 with Clarke collecting a sixth county winners’ medal. It was the first of another three-in-a-row for Ballygalget and for Clarke. The third of these victories was subsequently converted into a second Ulster club title for Clarke. The club was later defeated in the All-Ireland semi-final.

In 2008 Clarke won his ninth county senior championship winners’ medal following an eleven-point trouncing of Portaferry.

In 2010 Clarke won his tenth county championship beating Ballycrane 3-19 0-12.

Inter-county[edit]

Clarke first came to prominence on the inter-county scene as a member of the Down minor hurling team in the late 1980s. He was only fifteen years-old when he captured a coveted Ulster title in this grade in 1989, following a defeat in a replay of Antrim.[3] Down were subsequently defeated in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Clarke made his senior debut for Down in a challenge game against Meath in 1993. It would be another few years before he became Down’s first-choice goalkeeper for the championship. Following Noel Keith's retirement Clarke made his senior championship debut in 1997. That year he won a coveted Ulster title following a 3-14 to 0-19 defeat of Antrim.[2] Down, however, were subsequently trounced by Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final.[4]

The next few years proved to an unhappy time for Down’s hurling team as Antrim and Derry reclaimed their status as the standard-bearers in the provincial championship. Clarke lined out in further Ulster finals in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2008, however, he ended up on the losing side on all six occasions.

In 2005 a restructuring of the championship saw Down being entered in the Christy Ring Cup, effectively a competition for the ‘second-tier’ hurling teams. Clarke’s side did well in their debut year and even reached the final of the competition. Westmeath provided the opposition on that occasion, however, at the full-time whistle Down were defeated by 1-23 to 2-18. The team, however, have failed to build on this in recent years.And in 2009 down lost to Carlow.

Honours[edit]

Inter-provincial[edit]

Clarke has also lined out with Ulster in the inter-provincial hurling competition. He has enjoyed little success with his province as Ulster have failed to even qualify for the Railway Cup final in recent years.

References and sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b Donegan (2005), pp. 102
  2. ^ a b c Donegan (2005), pp. 104
  3. ^ Donegan (2005), pp. 41
  4. ^ Donegan (2005), pp. 8
Sources
  • Donegan, Des (2005). The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games. Blackrock: DBA Publications. ISBN 0-9551115-0-1. 

Teams[edit]