Colm Collins will take charge of the Clare senior footballers for a 7th season after he was officially ratified in the role for the coming year.
The Cratloe clubman becomes the third longest serving current inter-county football manager with only Jim Gavin and Mickey Harte ahead of him.
Collins was ratified for a one year term at Tuesday evening’s meeting of Clare GAA where he was returned unopposed for another term in charge. Chairman of Clare GAA Joe Cooney told the meeting that it was brilliant news that Collins is to stay on for another year and outlined that during his time in charge, there has been huge progress for Clare football.
2019 saw Clare retain their status in Division Two of the National League with a dramatic victory over Tipperary on the last day of the campaign in Semple Stadium. The championship came to an end in the last round of qualifiers when a one point loss to Meath denied Clare a spot in the Super Eight’s.
It was also confirmed that the backroom team will remain unchanged from 2019, with Brian Carson continuing as team coach, while selectors Enda Coughlan, Declan Downes, Evan Shanahan and Declan O’Keeffe are also staying on board.
Collins admits that having all those committing for another year was a key factor in his decision to seek another term.
“The vital thing was that all the fantastic people that work with me were all interested in staying on. While people look on county management as being one person that could not be further from the truth. It is a real team effort and we have fantastic people in every area and thankfully they all wanted to stay. After that, the decision was easy but the role these people play should never be forgotten because there is a brilliant group there and they give our excellent bunch of players the best chance they can possibly get to achieve what they can achieve. When you have people of the quality we have you can just concentrate on what you should be doing yourself in making sure that everything is right. You can talk to players when you need to talk to them and head things off so thankfully we have a fantastic group together and you never have to ask them to do things because it is done before you even think of it and we are extremely fortunate to have that” he noted.
While the management team remains unchanged, Collins will have to plan without one of his on-field leaders as Jamie Malone is set to miss out on the year as he is going travelling.
“Jamie is away for the year travelling and there are a couple of other players who may or may not be available. We have had three exceptional minor teams in recent years and a lot of these young lads are doing really well in the club championship so it is a new challenge to be looking forward to working with these players. The people involved in the underage and development squads really must take huge credit for the quality of player they are producing. It is exciting to see that level of talent coming through and there are a good few of them so it will be interesting to see how they can continue to grow” said Collins.
Collins also admits that making sure the players were in favour of the management team seeking another term was also a critical factor.
He said: “The feedback from the players was positive and that was vital. If you don’t have that, there is no point in being there. That process was done within a week of the Meath game and then the board set their stall out and asked the question and told us they wanted us to stay on so that was good. It was then just a matter of making sure the team of people we have working together were all interested in staying on and once they were it was an easy decision overall. We would have been a bit disappointed by some of our performances in the league but from the last game of the league onwards I thought that there was a considerable improvement. There was a great atmosphere and everyone was getting on really well together and there was great relationship with the players. While I would not be happy with the way it ended, it was really enjoyable from a participation point of view so once all the people that made it possible were interested in staying, it was an easy decision to stay on too. It is great going out to see how players are performing and there have been some really good displays in the championship so far and hopefully that will continue. When we sit down in November to put the panel together, I think we will be in a strong position”.
Meanwhile Kilmurry Ibrickane’s Dermot Couglan will continue as Clare minor football manager as they look to build on a positive campaign. 2019 saw the Banner crowned Munster B champions after the four team round robin series before losing out narrowly to eventual All Ireland champions Cork and Kerry in Phase Two. Coughlan is hopeful of more improvements to come.
“The round robin series last year was hugely beneficial because you are getting more games for the lads and we have to remember they are only 16 and 17 years of age so they are really fledglings at inter-county level. The more games they get the better and while we were delighted with our year, we are hoping to do even better in 2020” he said.
There was no update on the situation regarding the Clare U-20 football manager position. It is understood that the outgoing manager Seamus Clancy is interested in another term and this is expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks.