*Gary Brennan. Photograph: Martin Connolly
Gary Brennan’s contribution to football in the county has been lauded by Clare GAA secretary, Pat Fitzgerald.
Last month, Brennan confirmed he would not be part of the county panel in 2020 for the first time since receiving the call-up from Paidí Ó Sé in 2007.
“One could only describe the season for the Clare senior footballers as one of consolidation with some success thrown in for good measure,” Fitzgerald stated in his report to the 2019 Convention which took place at The Auburn Lodge.
Life in Division 2 presented “a very competitive campaign” in the Allianz National Football League with a final round clash with Tipperary “effectively a relegation final” and one in which the Banner prevailed.
“Clare looked to nail down certainties to easily overcome Waterford in their championship opener but nothing was further from the truth. Clare laboured to get their game going, perhaps that was a tribute to Waterford but eventually Clare stumbled over the line,” recording a one point win.
This set up a semi-final meeting with Kerry and marked the beginning of Peter Keane’s senior inter-county managerial career. “Clare were game but not good enough, eventually losing 1-15 0-12”. A one point loss to Meath denied them a place in the Super 8s following victories over Leitrim and Westmeath.
Fitzgerald added, “It was a campaign which had its rewards for Jamie Malone who received an All-Star nomination for his excellent performances. Manager Colm Collins has remained at the helm for a seventh season but 2020 will provide a searching examination of the depth of his squad”.
“Gary Brennan who has been an exemplary player in the Clare jersey and a player of outstanding ability has announced his retirement and whoever steps into his boots will have a hard act to follow”. A return to inter-county action is unlikely for the Clondegad man but no official confirmation has been given regarding a retirement. “Factor in the unavailability of Jamie Malone, Aaron Fitzgerald and Sean O’Donoghue and one can readily appreciate how difficult a season Clare faces”.
A new two tier championship format endorsed by Congress means counties competing in Divisions Three and Four of the National League that don’t progress to their provincial final will be excluded from the qualifiers. “Instead they will be competing for Sam but in a second tier championship. For Clare, it means they must either retain their Division Two League status or qualify for the Munster Championship Final”.