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Clare Champion Hurling Analyst Fergie O'Loughlin

Off The Fence With Fergie O’Loughlin

With the club championship in full flow and now narrowed down to the last eight in the race for the Canon, maybe people can be forgiven for almost forgetting about what is happening on the inter-county scene for the moment.

Clare’s 2019 championship campaign ended with that battling win over Cork on June 16 and brought the curtain down on what was a disappointing and frustrating summer. It raised many questions about how it could all have all gone so badly wrong with two resounding defeats to Tipperary and Limerick ultimately proving Clare’s downfall.

When delegates reconvened for the next county board meeting, it surely should have led to a substantial and heated debate about the fortunes of the county team and what could be done to rectify it going forward. Ruan delegate Ger Lyons was the only one who seemed to be interested in it when he called on the board to initiate a review into the year just gone with a view to getting a plan in place for 2020.

That review was sanctioned, but the question now has to be asked as to where exactly that review is? It is three months since Clare exited the championship and there is still no progress on appointing either the same management team or a new one. Clare GAA chairman Joe Cooney told The Clare Champion a few weeks ago: “It was only for the hurling that the review was requested and that is ongoing at the moment. We have spoken to different GAA people throughout the county and we have also spoken to some of the players and part of the management team to get their views on it. We have also gone to people involved in the development squads to see are we doing the right thing at underage level and that is what we are doing at the moment. We have got responses back from different people on that and we are continuing to do that”.

Surely there has to be more clarity than that? It has never been publically stated as to who is carrying out the review, what are their terms of reference, who exactly have they approached and what exactly is the feedback they are getting? You would think then that at the next available opportunity for clubs to ask those questions, there would be a clamour among the delegates to grill the top table. You would think.

Instead, only Christy Murray of Sixmilebridge asked for an update on how the selection process was progressing and the answer was that there was no answer. The board are still working on it and there should be something more at the October meeting which will be almost four months after the 2019 season ended. The really worrying aspect of this is that no other delegate stood up and looked for answers, nor did anyone ask a single question about the review which the chairman said was underway. Incredibly, Christy’s question came so far down on the agenda that prior to it Newmarket on Fergus had asked their fellow GAA clubs to ‘like’ a status on the club’s Facebook page to help them win a new car in a TG4 competition.

It raises the question as to how much of the blame of the ills of Clare GAA rest on the shoulders of the clubs. Surely delegates being sent to these meetings should be challenging the top table and having healthy and structured debates for the good of GAA in the county. The Clare senior hurling team are the most prestigious team in the county so why is there not more than just Christy Murray demanding answers as to the future of the squad?

Just to make it clear, this is not in any way shape or form a criticism of Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor. They have been great servants of Clare GAA and if anything they deserve more respect than being left in limbo in the manner that they have. If they are going to be reappointed, it is unfair on them to be placed on the back foot straight away by having to rush through their plans for the coming year. It is an immediate hindrance on whoever is appointed to the job and really highlights the inaction that has been allowed to develop up to now, and the inaction of the vast majority of clubs and their delegates has facilitated it.

It is simply not good enough and Clare hurling deserves a lot better than that.


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