The Clare U-21 hurlers have been given a clear run with their preparations ahead of next week’s Munster final after persuading the county board to postpone two football fixtures involving six squad members.
Team boss John Minogue and coach Cyril Lyons, made an impassioned plea to delegates at this week’s county board meeting in Carron to defer the fixtures, both U-21 club football semi-finals, scheduled for Thursday night.
“These fixtures impinge seriously on our ability to train for a Munster final. It impinges seriously on the fitness and capability of players to play at their best and there is a serious risk of injury,” Minogue said.
The six players involved are Seán Collins, Conor McGrath, Liam Markham and Cathal McInerney (Cratloe), Noel Casey (Lissycasey) and Colin McGuane (St Joseph’s Miltown).
“We are playing next Wednesday evening and we are of the opinion that the amount of time between the football semi-finals and the hurling final is too little. It’s not often that a Clare U-21 team contests a Munster final, it has been a bit regular in the last few years and we are asking the meeting to give the players the full opportunity to express themselves on the night, free of injury,” Minogue said.
Making his case for a postponement of the football fixtures, the manager revealed that the four Cratloe players “are all in with a major shout” of being on the team, especially with the injuries which have occurred.
“Seán Collins has been rested and did not train with us this weekend because of his involvement with the senior team. There is a serious issue of him having played too many games. There is always that problem at U-21 and minor level,” Minogue added.
The team boss emphasised that some players are already nursing injuries, including one of the players who was instrumental in fashioning the win over Limerick in the semi-final.
The Clare manager did agree that injuries could happen crossing the road or falling off a bike. “That can happen but a six-day period is very short if somebody does suffer a muscle injury.”
He acknowledged the help of the county board in their years involved.
“We have been successful and not because we have done it all on our own. There has been a great degree of co-operation. Last year when we got to the All-Ireland final, we did not hold up any competition. They all went ahead and we did not approach the county board at any stage last year to look at postponing a match. We do not take asking this very lightly. We know it impinges on fixtures but we are asking you to look at another date,” he commented.
Cyril Lyons told the meeting that a planned training session last Friday night was deferred because players had club commitments at the weekend.
“Our plan was to get all our work this week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It was very obvious last week that a lot of the senior players were tired. At training last night (Monday) there were seven players in the stand, four resting and three injured.
“If the games go ahead this Thursday it effectively means that the players involved won’t train on Wednesday and won’t train on Friday so, effectively won’t train with us until the Munster final is over. Seán Collins hasn’t trained since last Wednesday with us and if Thursday’s game goes ahead he won’t train between the semi-final and final.
“It’s obvious from last week that there are places up for grabs and the only place you can impress is in training. We are here with this request because we feel we have a genuine case and we are here to represent the players,” the Ruan man explained.
Cratloe chairman Pat O’Gorman said his club was anxious to support the request before pointing out that he didn’t see an alternative date until October.
“We sat down and made out a list of all the fixtures we have with minors, U-21s and seniors in hurling and football and it’s one after another.”
Representatives of all four clubs were unable to come up with an alternative date for the games although Miltown’s Michael McDonagh was of the opinion that it would be possible to find a date. He supported the request to have the games postponed.
The representatives of the four clubs were asked to withdraw and discuss the matter. They returned without a solution, pointing out that while they wanted to facilitate the request, they were unable to find an alternative date within the schedule presented at the start of the meeting.
“We cannot go ahead with the games on Thursday evening,” said Cratloe’s Jack Chaplin, and this view was seconded by Miltown’s Michael McDonagh, who suggested a further meeting involving representatives of Bord na nÓg in an effort to reschedule some games in order to find new dates for the U- 21 football semi-finals.
An alternative date for the games was not found and a meeting involving representatives of the four clubs, together with officials of Bord na nÓg hurling and football and the county fixtures committee was agreed in an effort to find new dates.
Delegates attending the meeting were presented with a fixture schedule for the remainder of the season, which listed the programme from now until the beginning of November, when the first-round games in the provincial club championships will take place.