The new coach of the Clare senior footballers is looking forward to getting the new season underway after being announced as part of the Banner set up.
Sligo native Gerry McGowan has been confirmed as the new coach for the Colm Collins managed outfit, taking over from Brian Carson in the role. Carson stepped away from the role after two years having joined the Banner set up in 2018.
The former Sligo player becomes the sixth coach to work with Collins during his eight year tenure in charge of the set up. Paudie Kissane, Ephie Fitzgerald and Mick Bohan each served for one year before Alan Flynn and Brian Carson each spent two years in the role.
McGowan, who was a selector with the Sligo squad in 2018, helped guide his native Tourlestrane to five consecutive Sligo senior football titles alongside joint manager Eamon O’Hara. He outlined that his initial contact with Collins was positive and that the similarities in their vision for football was central to his decision in joining the set up.
“I know some lads in the football circuit around Galway that are involved with Colm in the background with analytics and stats. It was around mid January that I got a call from him to have a chat on a few things. He outlined his vision and some of the things that needed to be improved on. We were aligned in the way we think about football and the direction we wanted to take things in so that is how it got started. I went away and had a think about it, then we had a few more chats about the way we wanted to look at things for the year ahead. We were of a similar mind so it just clicked really. He seemed to have put a lot of thought into the previous year and where they had done well and where they maybe needed to improve things. After a few chats it became clear that we were thinking along the same lines so it was a good fit in the end” he noted.
The 2007 Connacht championship winner with Sligo, who has previously faced Clare during his playing days, is impressed with the strides the Banner has made in recent years.
“We have had some good battles with Clare over the years and they have always been a good, strong, solid team. We would have been around Division Four and Division Three of the league around the same time but Clare progressed on. They are were always a tough team to play against, very tenacious and hard to break down, so I would have been familiar enough with them alright. I would probably not be as up to speed on them as I would have been in previous years, but I am looking forward to getting to grips to what is going on there now. The first thing was that I got to look at the games and had that chance to go away and see what do I think from something of a blank canvass perspective.There were some real positives and some really good players in the squad. There is plenty talent there to work with so that is something to look forward to.” he said.
McGowan’s initial contact with the squad came via a virtual meeting and while a return to on field action is now slated for April 19, he still feels that the online forum has a part to play in the future.
“It is starting to become the norm now because we are into the second season of starting to do a lot of the stuff online. It is a good way of keeping the lads engaged and while it is not ideal, it is giving us a way of doing things. It is a way for me to talk to the lads and get their feedback so at least it is a way of getting going. I am sure every management team around the country have been working hard to try and figure out new ways of doing things. I think it is a positive in terms of cutting out the unnecessary travelling for meetings and things like that in the past so it is a good way in saving time in that sense” he noted.
Clare boss Colm Collins is also looking forward to getting back on the pitch and feels his new coach will bring an added freshness to the squad.
“We are delighted to welcome Gerry on board. He comes very highly recommended and had a spectacularly successful spell in management in Sligo club football so we are happy to have him with us. The coaching role is very important in any set up and while we have not been on the pitch yet, from what we have been doing on Zoom, we can see that he is very knowledgeable and brings that freshness to it. It is always nice to have a new voice and while we are sorry to have lost Brian Carson, who was excellent, hopefully Gerry will step it and take things forward again” he said.
Senior intercounty training will resume on April 19 following the Government’s latest announcements, and Collins says everyone is eager to get back out on the field.
“It was fantastic to get that definite date and it is something to look forward to. Everyone, particularly the players, are just dying to get on the pitch now. It is great news overall. We are just glad to be back and whatever they decide on structures, we will live with. The great thing is to be back on the pitch and back playing the game” he noted.
The GAA are expected to formally announce a fixture calendar at the end of next week, but Collins feels the preferred option should be to run the intercounty season to its conclusion before handing over the rest of the year to the clubs.
“I would fully agree with that. I don’t think it would be a good idea to have a split intercounty season. We should finish the intercounty and then start the club. I would say that most people would be in favour of that too” he said.