*Jamie Stack is among the new additions. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

SIXTEEN players have been added to the Clare senior football squad as Mark Fitzgerald begins his tenure as Banner boss.

Fitzgerald has been handed the unenviable task of not-alone replacing Colm Collins but also of rebuilding a squad but the Tralee native is determined not to shirk from the challenge.

As part of this new era, he has drafted in sixteen additions to the Clare squad, five of whom have returned following previous exits.

After kicking 1-29 in St Breckan’s run to the Clare SFC final, Jamie Stack was close to top of the list for Fitzgerald to bring into his panel. Stack who previously trained with the Republic of Ireland U18 squad, has represented his county at minor and U20 level is currently sidelined with injury that kept him out of his club’s U21 final loss to rivals Ennistymon.

Cian Burke breaks the challenge of Cian Meaney. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

Cian Burke who captained St Breckan’s at senior level has also been rewarded for an excellent club campaign. The twenty four year old is also an officer on the Executive of the club which caters to Doolin, Lisdoonvarna and Kilshanny. Following Cratloe’s two point county final win over Breckan’s, Colm Collins was quick to heap praise on Burke, “Cian Burke in particular has had some championship, he has been absolutely outstanding, I’m really excited about seeing him in a Clare jersey because I think he is a fantastic young fella”.

Joe McGann. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Although currently on holidays in Australia, Joseph McGann has returned to the Clare panel. The lethal St Breckans forward departed the Clare squad following the conclusion of the 2022 season but returns in advance of their 2024 campaign. McGann has proven to be a handful for inter-county defenders with his ability to weave and dodge tackles making him a constant goal-threat, his goal against Kildare was critical to Clare staying up in Division 2 of the National Football League in 2021.

Tristan O’Callaghan. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Tristan O’Callaghan who left the Clare panel after emigrating to Australia, following their All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Derry when he lined out in goals, has been asked to return to the county panel and has duly obliged. O’Callaghan missed all of Clare’s 2023 championship run and returned a week in advance of their Clare SFC semi-final with St Joseph’s Miltown, he was introduced as a substitute during their county final loss to Cratloe.

Ciaran Downes. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Fresh from leading Kilmihil’s charge back to the senior ranks, Ciaran Downes is another player to make a return to the inter-county ranks. Downes left the Clare panel in April 2023 following the National Football League to spend the summer in the United States. Prior to his exit, he featured in four of Clare’s seven outings in the National League, kicking a point in their final tie against Limerick. Downes has stood out for UL at Sigerson Cup level and was named on the Higher Education Rising Stars team of the year.

Seanie Buckley’s addition as coach following three seasons with Éire Óg, two of which resulted in them winning the Jack Daly ensures he has a strong familiarity of the calibre of player within their ranks and three members of the Ennis club will join the Clare squad for 2024.

Éinne O’Connor. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Wing-back Éinne O’Connor who was widely regarded as one of the top players in the 2022 club campaign is among them to make the jump. O’Connor lined out in the 2019 All-Ireland senior championship, coming on as a substitute in Clare’s second round qualifier win over Leitrim (3-17 0-17). He has represented the county at underage levels before. Injury disrupted his involvement in this year’s club campaign, a loss which was certainly felt by Paul Madden’s Éire Óg.

Gavin Murray in action for Éire Óg. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Although Gavin Murray has inter-county experience, he has yet to wear the saffron and blue. Murray transferred to Éire Óg this year and formed a midfield partnership with Darren O’Neill. He previously lined out for his native Westmeath at minor and U21, he was on the senior panel which lost the 2016 Leinster final to Dublin.

Darren O’Brien. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Injuries such as O’Connor’s afforded Éire Óg players like Darren O’Brien the chance of more game time and he relished such an opportunity which has resulted in his call to the county football squad. O’Brien was previously part of Brian Lohan’s senior hurling squad but was let go prior to the 2023 season, he has also captained the University of Galway’s Fitzgibbon Cup side.

Three members of the Ennistymon side crowned U21A football champions for the second year in a row join Fitzgerald’s panel.

Diarmuid Fahy takes on Dylan O’Brien. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

Diarmuid Fahy had a horrid 2023 when it came to injuries, he was sidelined for the entirety of Ennistymon’s senior championship run and missed out on their Cusack Cup success. He returned to the attack for their U21 side and the former Clare minor forward continued to showcase his ability to score off either foot and cause headaches for opposing defences.

Ciaran McMahon. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

A late point from defender Ciaran McMahon is what forced extra time in the U21A final and the Ennistymon man continues his ascension from Clare minor and U20 sides to the senior set-up. McMahon who comes from a well-known family in the pub and coursing spheres, also came up trumps with a goal to force penalties in the 2022 Clare SFC semi-final between Ennistymon and Kilmurry Ibrickane.

Josh Guyler. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Ennistymon’s trio of additions is complete with the call-up for Josh Guyler. An attacking wing-back, the former Ennistymon CBS student was a member of the Clare U20 hurling panel for two seasons and is a regular starter on the Inagh/Kilnamona senior hurling team. He was one of the leaders on the Ennistymon team who claimed back to back U21A football titles.

Diarmuid O’Donnell manages to get a shot away. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Kildysart’s Diarmuid O’Donnell has also been recruited to the panel. He enjoyed a fine club championship, reaching the quarter-final stages in their first campaign back in the senior ranks. Getting back on the field was a joy for the pace corner forward who had been out of action with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Fergal Guinnane. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

His clubmate Fergal Guinnane is also added to the squad. Fergal was full-back on the Clare minor squad which contested the Munster minor final in 2020, a side which also included Guyler and Fahy, they lost out to Kerry on a score of 2-14 1-7. At club level, he kicked what proved to be the winning goal when Kildysart defeated St Breckan’s 1-7 0-7 to win the Cusack Cup title in 2021.

Kieran Malone. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Goals have also been scored in the Clare colours by Kieran Malone who returns to the inter-county fold. The St Joseph’s Miltown clubman kicked 1-3 when Clare defeated Limerick in the 2018 Munster quarter-final and made plenty of appearances in league and championship under Colm Collins, he was on the panel for three seasons.

James Curran. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

When Clare brought Kerry to extra time in the Munster U20 football semi-final this season, Brian McNamara rightly deserved plenty of plaudits for his showing at midfield. His partner in the centre of the field, James Curran also had a fine evening and the St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield clubman who trained on occasion with the seniors following this display, has been added to the panel. Curran and Tom McDonald had a youthful but physical partnership as The Parish reached the quarter-finals of the Clare SFC.

Eoghan Casey. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

Impressive in defence for Michael Neylon’s Clare U20s for the past two years was Eoghan Casey. The Wolfe Tones clubman who has lined out in goals for local soccer clubs, makes the step-up to senior. Not one to shy away from a tackle, Casey has shown lots of potential with the county squads in the past and the former St Caimin’s Community School student will be the only representative of the Shannon panel on Fitzgerald’s squad.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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