For many Laois supporters, the thought of him not being there doesn’t come easily. Whether he was starting, or coming in off the bench, his presence reassured team mates and supporters alike.
By Rory Delaney
Needed a score? Needed to win a ball in midfield? Needed experience? There was only one man you turned to. He was a constant, as reliable as a sunrise.
Padraig Clancy finally made a selfish decision yesterday and retired. The reaction around the county, on social media and internet forums goes some way to capturing how highly regarded the Timahoe man was, and still is.
For a generation of Laois supporters, he was an iconic figure, the lanky, skillful midfielder who never seemed to miss a game. He always had a great rapport with Laois supporters too. There may have been days he didn’t play well, but it’s hard to think of days he didn’t try his best, and people respected him for that.
He seemed as enthusiastic to pull on a Laois jersey this year as he did when he was a teenager, and his affable nature and willingness to sign jerseys, pose for photographs and chat with supporters endeared him to many. By all accounts, the dressing room will a quieter place without him now too.
The Leinster success of 2003 was the pinnacle of his career in terms of trophies, but he maintained an impressive level of performance long after. There were many highs and lows, but his point against Dublin in the 2003 Leinster semi-final will be passed down in folklore.
How far out was he exactly? It depends who you talk to, but the general consensus seems to have been anywhere from 55 yards to somewhere on the M50.
That game was already becoming a turning point for Laois football. There was a bust up in the tunnel at half time as Laois left the field with a two point lead, and then Colm Parkinson told the nation, through RTE, that he couldn’t see how Laois were going to be beaten.
For those in Laois colours watching on, such confidence left them open-mouthed. It wasn’t Laois’ traditional setting, we were a hopeful county, not an expectant one, but it all changed that day.
If Parkinson’s words verbalised Laois’ confidence, then Clancy’s point, and the audacity of it, was the physical embodiment of it, and it helped to alter a mindset and saw Laois claim a famous win. The rest, as they say, is history.
He did a lot for Laois football, and we are all grateful. No one wanted to see him leave, but he goes with the best wishes of a county ringing in his ears.