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Huge boost for Clare footballers as Brennan & Malone return

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*Gary Brennan with Chloe Downes. Photograph: Martin Connolly

Clare football has received a massive boost ahead of the resumption of inter county activity with the news that Gary Brennan and Jamie Malone have rejoined the squad.

All star nominee Brennan opted out of the squad at the end of the 2019 campaign as he had plans to go travelling in 2020. Malone did likewise in order to travel. However COVID-19 disrupted those plans and both were in sparkling form in the recently concluded club championships.

Brennan shone for both Ballyea and Clondegad in the recent senior hurling and football campaigns. The St. Flannans college teacher picked up a serious ankle injury while playing for Clondegad against Cratloe in the senior football championship which ruled him out of action for Ballyea in their championship semi-final against O’Callaghans Mills.

Malone was also in top form for Corofin in both their intermediate hurling and football campaigns. The hurlers lost out after extra time to Smith O’Briens in a quarter final tie while the footballers, with Malone as captain, went down in the final to St. Josephs Doora/Barefield.

Brennan returned to action when he joined the Clare senior football squad for training last week and while he didn’t play when Clare faced Mayo in a challenge game in Cusack Park on Sunday morning last, he is understood to have recovered from injury and is expected to be part of the Clare panel for their upcoming league games against Fermanagh and Armagh and for their championship clash with Tipperary on November 1.

Similarly Malone is also expected to feature in those games having committed to a return to the squad earlier this week.

Clare are due to resume their league campaign on Sunday week when they will entertain Fermanagh in Ennis and six days later they will also have home advantage, this time against Armagh in the final round of the league.

Currently Clare are third from bottom with 4 points and they are ahead of Kildare who have the same total as they defeated the Lilywhites when the sides met in Cusack Park. Fermanagh are currently bottom of the table and must beat Clare next week to have a chance of avoiding the drop to division 3.

Clare’s final round opponents on Saturday October 24, Armagh, are currently top of the table with 7 points. It’s all to play for in the final two rounds with all teams still very much involved in the battle for both promotion and to avoid relegation

There has been much speculation after the club championship that a number of new faces would be added to the panel and while the management members are understood to have been keeping a close eye on the progress of a number of players, it’s unlikely that any will be added at this time.

Croke Park has ordered that panels must be cut down and this together with the shorter time to prepare for a resumption of competition is likely to see preparations confined to the outgoing panel plus Brennan and Malone who have been very much to the fore in Clare’s march up from division 4 to division 2 in recent years.

Amongst the players understood to have caught the management’s eyes during the recent championship are Daniel Walsh (Kilmurry-Ibrickane), Michéal Garry (Cooraclare) and Aaron Griffin (Lissycasey).

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