Nicky O’Connell and Davy O’Halloran have turned their backs on the Clare senior hurling panel.
Clonlara’s O’Connell, an All-Ireland senior and U-21 medal winner and O’Halloran, from Éire Óg, also an U-21 All-Ireland medalist, left the panel last week after they were punished for an alleged breach of discipline.
O’Connell’s brother Cathal (Tots) was also disciplined by the team management but he has not withdrawn. He was with the squad for last Sunday’s league tie with Tipperary.
It is understood that the trio were given a three-week programme of physical training and informed that they would not play any part in three league games as a result of a breach of the strict discipline guidelines put in place by the team management. The alleged breach is understood to have occurred on the Friday prior to the opening league game against Galway.
Davy O’Halloran and Nicky O’Connell have played key roles in the Munster and All-Ireland successes that Clare have enjoyed in recent times. O’Connell was part of the 2009 U-21 team that ended years of disappointment at that level and he has been a part of the senior squad since then.
In the 2013 All-Ireland drawn final, having been introduced as a second-half substitute, he provided the pass to his Clonlara clubmate, Domhnall O’Donovan, who scored the equalising point in the final seconds of that thrilling contest.
O’Halloran has helped Clare to All-Ireland U-21 honours and he was also prominent for the Clare minors prior to his U-21 success. On the way to these victories, he won a number of man of the match awards.
O’Halloran is a prominent dual player with his club and excelled for the Éire Óg footballers during their march to the county final last year.
Neither player had seen any game time in the current league campaign, while Cathal O’Connell was introduced late on in the matches against Galway and Cork. While he was with the party last week for the match with Tipperary, he wasn’t included in the squad as part of the disciplinary measures imposed by Davy Fitzgerald and his management team.
That disciplinary action means he will not be part of the match day squad on this Saturday and again on Sunday week, when Clare travel to play champions Kilkenny, but it is understood that he will be considered for action on March 28/29 when the league quarter-finals and relegation play-off games are due to take place.
By Seamus Hayes, sports editor