Clare ladies’ senior football manager David O’Brien received confirmation on Monday of his appointment for a second year in the position.
His immediate priority is to gain promotion back to NFL Division 2. 2011 will be the Miltown Malbay publican’s fourth successive year involved as either manager or coach. The appointment followed a number of meetings with the Clare Ladies Football County Board at which some assurances were sought regarding the board’s ability to finance the costs involved in preparing a senior inter-county team.
Although Clare were relegated to Division 3 of the NFL in 2010, they performed impressively in the All-Ireland quarter-final against eventual winners Dublin in Tullamore.
Subsequently three players, Louise Henchy, Niamh Keane and Niamh O’Dea were amongst 45 players to receive All-Star nominations.
“We feel that to improve from last year we will have to up a lot of different things,” David O’Brien told The Clare Champion. “The bottom line is a lot of things that we need to do will cost more. The county board had to see whether they could help us. In fairness to them they have done everything they could to help us and we came to an arrangement in the last couple of days,” he confirmed.
The full composition of the management team has yet to be confirmed.
“We haven’t sorted out the management side of it yet. We’ll focus on that in the next week but you’d be hoping that the majority would stay on. There might be a couple of additions made but I’d be hoping that there will be continuity,” he suggested.
O’Brien says that he had considered severing his ties with the team after the disappointment of losing to Dublin in the championship. However, a feeling that this team has yet to reach its potential helped to change his mind.
“It’s hard to walk away when we feel that we didn’t reach the potential of the team. We haven’t reached the level that we can. We could be going around for the next 20 years going ‘what if we’d stayed on?’ It’s hard to walk away from it,” he said.
Clare will start their NFL league campaign with a home fixture against Down on February 6. In the interim, O’Brien expects some players to join the panel and some to leave. However, he believes that most of the 2010 squad will be involved for the coming season.
“You’re probably going to have four or five coming in and four or five to go but that happens every year. But we’d be hoping to keep most of last year’s panel because you had some very established players and also last year we brought in eight or nine new players to the panel. They mightn’t have seen as much action as they would have hoped for but the year will stand to them. They developed an awful lot over the year and this should be a big year for them now,” he predicted.
Collective training is likely to start in early January. “We are behind a bit. We had hoped to be started by now. At this stage, it’s going to be January before we get to start because it’s so close to Christmas. So we are two or three weeks behind where we’d like to be but we’ll just have to make it up as soon as possible,” he said.
“There are a lot of players in the county we have been looking at over the last year and we’d be hoping that they’ll make themselves available. It could be a big year for ladies’ football in Clare,” O’Brien feels.
While every team is judged by how they get on in the championship, O’Brien says that it’s imperative Clare escape Division 3 and are promoted in the league.
“We can’t be still in Division 3 after the league. We have to get promoted out of it. That’s the minimum target and then after it’ll be full on trying to do as well as we can in the championship,” he concluded.