While there were no formal announcements made as to the future, the vibes are strong that manager Colm Collins and some senior players will call time on their involvement with the county senior squad for next season.
After Saturday’s defeat, the Cratloe club man said, “I have four years done and they must be getting sick of me but this evening is not the time to talk about that. We will take a bit of time.”
There is concern amongst members of the squad that, after four years in charge, he will not seek another term, despite acknowledging on Saturday that “a lot of things are going well and there is more in Clare. There’s a fantastic bunch of players there but that’s no consolation this evening”.
When a team bows out of a championship, there is always speculation as to who might call time on their inter-county careers and, this week, it’s no different for the Clare footballers. Gordon Kelly and Joe Hayes are two of the longer-serving members of the team at this stage and both excelled on Saturday. They are amongst those who are being linked with retirement, while there are rumours that one or two of the squad are looking at taking time out to travel
Under Colm Collins’ management, Clare football has made huge strides. Two league promotions in three years have been followed by hugely impressive championship displays, when they have caused lots of problems for fancied teams, such as Kerry and Mayo.
It’s crucial for Clare GAA to make sure that that work continues and, in that regard, it’s important that county board officials sit down this week with Colm Collins to discuss the future and make every effort to ensure that he remains in charge. While all involved are disappointed right now, plans must be put in place to strengthen Clare’s improved position.
Right now, next year’s league seems a long time away but it won’t be long coming around and it will be a very important campaign for Clare, as they face life in Division 2 for a second successive year. Clare need to be playing regularly at this level, or higher, if they are to continue to challenge the big powers in football. The importance of regular competition against the top teams was evident in Clare’s recent losses to Mayo and Kerry and, if the Banner men are to regularly trouble these sides, they need to play a lot more games in the higher divisions.
A lot of good young players have been part of the extended panel in the past year and, hopefully, will have benefitted from the experience gained. It is vital that Clare strengthen the panel and, with this in mind, get the likes of Shane McGrath and Shane Hickey back. The squad would also benefit if the likes of Podge Collins and Cathal McInerney were available but it is unlikely that this will happen while they remain in the hurling squad.
For now, however, Clare GAA must make an effort to ensure that Colm Collins remains as team boss – and that must be done sooner rather than later.
By Seamus Hayes sports editor