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Although nominated, Michael 'Malty' McDonagh says he will not be a candidate at convention.

GAA chair willing to mediate in disciplinary dispute

CLARE GAA County Board chairman, Michael McDonagh, said he would have made himself available to mediate between players and management in the disciplinary dispute that has rocked the local hurling scene.

On Wednesday evening, the Clare senior hurling management and panel issued a brief statement in response to the controversy surrounding the disciplining of Davy O’Halloran and Nicky O’Connell.

Davy O Halloran of Clare is robbed by PJ Nolan of Wexford during their All-Ireland qualifier game at Cusack Park. Photograph by John Kelly.
Davy O Halloran in action against Wexford during their All-Ireland qualifier game at Cusack Park last year. Photograph by John Kelly.

“The Clare senior hurling panel and management have met on the recent disciplinary issues that have been aired in the public domain. All involved are happy that the matter was dealt with fairly.

“While there are numerous inaccuracies reported in the media, on social media and in a former player’s statement, the matter is now closed and we, as a group, are all happy to move forward united and to continue to enjoy working hard for Clare hurling.”

The statement was signed by Pat Donnellan and Cian Dillon, on behalf of the players and the management trio of Davy Fitzgerald, Michael Browne and Louis Mulqueen.

Board chairman, Mr McDonagh said he was unaware of any issue until it was made public last Saturday, when Éire Óg hurler Davy O’Halloran claimed he was “humiliated” by the Clare hurling management, following an alleged breach of discipline. He said he is still available to talk to the various parties on the issue and would also speak to parents concerned at the disciplinary procedures.

 Nicky O'Connell  in the Clonlara colours
Nicky O’Connell in the Clonlara colours

“Until this issue ended up in the media, nobody had spoken to me in relation to it. Obviously since then, I’ve spoken to certain players and the management on it. It’s my job to do that and see what’s going on. I talk to parents all the time. If parents want to talk to me about this, I’m available to talk to anybody in relation to any issue that has to do with Clare County Board,” the Miltown Malbay man confirmed on Tuesday.

Ideally, he said he should have been contacted to deal with the dispute.

“I would always hope, whether it applies to players or management, that if there were issues there, that they would come to me directly. As county chairman, I believe that I have a track record of solving issues. What should have happened in this issue, if anybody had problems, they should have come to me directly. I would have listened to everybody because I believe in dialogue. I would have spoken to players and management and I would have made myself available to resolve anything. It would be last resort that I would get involved but my door is always open. I speak to players and management of teams every day,” he reiterated.

The board chairman was keen to stress that he has a balanced view on the issues raised. “I’m not going to criticise anybody. I don’t think I’d be doing my job if I started criticising somebody in public. As I said, the county board’s door is always open if anybody wants to talk to us.”

Meanwhile, the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) confirmed on Monday that they are investigating the issue. “The matter is being investigated by the GPA and we will not be making any comment,” the players’ union said in a brief statement.
Mr McDonagh doesn’t envisage the county board being privy to the GPA investigation.

“The GPA have their own network in relation to how they talk to players. I wouldn’t dare interfere with that one way or the other. There is a charter there that has been signed at the start of the year by the players and by the county board. The GPA will talk to the players of the county hurling team and they’re welcome to do that. There is no hiding anything in this,” Mr McDonagh vowed.

By Peter O’Connell

Fitzgerald denies ‘double standards’

AS Clare supporters made their way to Cusack Park on Saturday for the clash with Dublin, the comments in The Irish Times that morning from Davy O’Halloran, one of two members of the panel who withdrew from the squad earlier in the week, was the hot topic of debate.

In the interview with Eamon Donoghue, O’Halloran claimed he was left “humiliated” by the treatment he received from manager Davy Fitzgerald. The Éire Óg man also claimed that a senior member of the squad had breached the rules but was not disciplined.

Asked for a reaction to the article after the game, Davy Fitzgerald said, “There is no reaction. In Clare, we do things properly. There’s a code of discipline and that’s it. We just drive on. The lads have been great, absolutely fantastic”.

Clare hurling manager, Davy Fitzgerald.
Clare hurling manager, Davy Fitzgerald.

When it was put to him that the team management were accused of double standards, he said, “I am not saying anything about that, people can write what they want. The bottom line is we, as a management, would be very fair in what we do. There are rules there, that’s it. I am very happy that we have done everything correct and I know the players are very happy as well”.

He added, “They are good and decent lads and I wish them all the best with their clubs going forward”.

A senior player didn’t, as suggested by O’Halloran, breach the rules but Davy and Nicky O’Connell did, is that the situation, the Clare boss was asked? “Yes, 110% and that’s all I say. I have said what I am going to say. Ye are making the deal out of it, not me. Do ye want to ask me anything else about the game?”

Asked if there was extra pressure on the team because of the controversy, Fitzgerald was adamant that “there was no real pressure”.

“A lot of people were putting pressure on but we didn’t and I think you could see that. You could see by my demeanour on the sideline, it was business as normal. I was delighted with them, they played really well.”

When asked if there is anything he regrets about the incident, he replied, “I have answered the question and I am not answering it again”.

Efforts by The Clare Champion to contact both O’Connell and O’Halloran during the past week were unsuccessful.

by Seamus Hayes, sports editor.

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