MIKE McNamara, the Clare County Board and the Clare senior hurling panel all have choices. The individuals or groups concerned can either sit tight and say nothing or face each other down. The manager must know that a significant number within the outgoing senior hurling panel would prefer if he wasn’t in charge of the Clare senior hurling team.
Would it not be in the manager’s interests to meet the panel and ask them face to face, man to man, what the problem is? He’ll surely know what some of the problem is beforehand but it would do no harm to hear it first hand.
As bad as Clare were in 2009, Mike McNamara owes little to Clare hurling having been successfully involved from U-16 to senior level. There is no avoiding the fact, however, that not winning a single league game in 2009, followed by a similarly poor championship (although Clare at least put it up to Tipperary) suggests that McNamara didn’t get the best from Clare this year. How does he plan to go about reinvigorating them for 2010? He confirmed to The Clare Champion last week that he intends completing his term. If the players don’t want to play for him, they’re going to have to find the bottle to tell their manager just that. Tell him to his face. Don’t hide behind whispers or swollen rumours.
If they do that, the situation will change completely. A manager at any level knows that if he loses the trust and respect of his players, his time is up.
The question for the Clare players now is do they have what it takes to take a stand and are they united enough in the first place to take that stand?
Already, they have shown a bit of naivety by allowing Gerry Quinn to attend their recent meeting. Quinn could have been informed that the meeting was on but should not have attended.
That he did will be used to spin against any disaffected players by Mike McNamara, the county board and those who won’t face up to the fact that there is a problem with the panel regarding the manager.
So in short, the manager and the players need to meet and talk.
The county board’s role should be fairly minimal. They have said, on the record, that they were not aware that a meeting took place and that Mike McNamara has their full backing anyway.
So if there is an issue, there seems little point in the players approaching the county board for advice or leadership. The fact that Clare won no meaningful game at adult level this year has not been discussed in depth at any county board meeting since Clare exited the championship. If the county board genuinely wanted to find out why Clare were so ineffective in 2009 surely they would have thought of raising the matter at one of their own meetings?
They didn’t so let’s forget their role and get back to the players.
They have a very simple choice to make. Do they believe that Clare will learn from 2009 and improve significantly under Mike McNamara in 2010? If they do, they should stick with their manager and throw everything into preparing for next year.
If they don’t, they must say so and be brave enough to take the flak which will fly in their direction from the conservative, ‘everything is grand’ rump, which buys into the Clare GAA theory that it’s acceptable not to compete meaningfully at senior and every other level, bar U-21 – anything to avoid a bit of self-examination.
Time will judge if this Clare panel have what it takes to take on the Clare GAA establishment and stand up for their convictions. Although time is ticking and there isn’t much of that valuable time left.