Ger Loughnane has described the position of Clare County Board Chairman as ‘utterly untenable’
Lifting the Liam McCarthy in 2013 and winning three consecutive All Ireland Under 21 Hurling Championship titles, would suggest that Clare are in a prime position to challenge for the next decade. From the outside therefore, it would seem strange that Loughnane described Clare hurling as being ‘in crisis’, and the position of County Board Chairman, Michael McDonagh, being as ‘utterly untenable’.
However Loughnane considers the long term future of Clare hurling to be in peril. In the Clare Champion Loughnane asked, ‘Why are we promoting people at U14 and U15 who have no knowledge whatsoever or even no background in hurling? Still, they are being promoted at under age level. What’s going on is absolutely crazy’.
Lougnane believes that unless there is an independent review of the situation, a doomsday scenario might be played out in which Clare ‘could be in a similar situation to Cork where we’ll have no success at under age level if this is not reviewed now’.
Brian Lohan originally floated the idea for such a review following Clare’s exiting this years Championship defeat to Cork. Lohan argued that ‘the county board is not independent enough’ and instead suggested that Loughnane chair such a review. Lohan believed that the position of the County Board was compromised, after it refused to debate the future of Davy Fitzgerald with club delegates. Loughnane agreed with Lohan, stating that McDonagh’s position had become ‘utterly untenable’ as a result.
Loughnane argued that the situation in which Clare now find themselves, can only be ‘reviewed by people who have the interests of Clare hurling at heart and people who are competent to do it’. The review, Loughnane claims, would ‘need to look at the whole set-up and that includes officers in the county board. Have we the right officers to pursue the right agenda for the future?’ Loughnane also warned, ‘there is no point in this just being a stop gap measure or a way of creating a bit of time so that everything will settle down’.
He added that nobody would chair such a review unless they had ‘a guarantee [that] their recommendations will be acted upon’. However the former manager thinks that such a independent review would be ‘unpalatable’ for McDonagh and County Secretary, Pat Fitzgerald.
With McDonagh seeking to represent Fianna Fáil in the next general election, Loughnane has also questioned the Chairman’s motivation for remaining in office, claiming, ‘He is pursuing a political career and all of his utterances and actions are aiming to improve his status in that area. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the future of Clare hurling. It’s just a PR exercise that is so badly carried out that it’s an insult to people’s intelligence that he thinks he is getting away with it’.
However McDonagh has hit back stating, ‘Comments I have made in my remit as chairman of the county board, during the past fortnight and throughout my tenure, have always been made in the best interests of Clare GAA and in my capacity as chairman only. The suggestion any comments I have made are self-serving or politically motivated are wrong and appear to me to be intentionally misleading and intended to damage my candidacy in Friday’s Fianna Fáil selection convention’.
The unfolding wrangling could not have come at a worse time for Clare. Following their All Ireland win in 2013, Clare have suffered two early exits from the Championship. There have also been disquiet amongst supporters who travelled in small numbers to watch their side play in Thurles this year.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena