*Ger Loughnane. Photograph: Joe Buckley
Two-time All-Ireland winning hurling manager, Ger Loughnane has declared that Clare GAA is “in disarray”.
In an open letter, the two-time All Star lamented the lack of success by Clare hurling teams in the past eight years. He put pen to paper in an appeal to Banner supporters to aid the running of Club Clare through a financial contribution.
Clare GAA has been the focus of national media attention for over a month with questions raised on the expenditure of the Clare hurling supporters club during Davy Fitzgerald’s tenure as manager and not that of his predecessor or successors. An examination of Caherlohan and Pat Fitzgerald’s stint as county secretary has also been analysed at national level.
Loughnane through his frequent column with The Irish Daily Star has not deterred from criticising both Davy and Pat Fitzgerald in recent years, an approach he also maintained during Anthony Daly’s three year stint as Clare manager.
As he reflected on the last decade for Clare GAA, the former primary school principal chose Clare’s win in the 2013 U21 All-Ireland hurling final as his highlight. “What made that victory so special was towards the end of the game, Clare youngsters of various ages, girls and boys, seemed to emerge from nowhere and begin lining the perimeter of the field, hurleys in hand, waiting for the game to end. There seemed to be thousands of them there and just as the final whistle sounded, they resembled a stream of locusts as they stormed onto the pitch, blotting out the Thurles turf”.
He recalled a feeling of confidence in Clare hurling’s future while watching in the stands of Semple Stadium that day. “Two weeks later that future looked to be copper fastened when our young team brilliantly captured the MacCarthy Cup. That September we were the envy of every other hurling county in the land”.
“Now, less than eight years later, we are in disarray, so much so that the gap between us and our main competitors is widening at a frightening rate. The big worry now is that this gap will develop into a chasm through which we will topple into hurling irrelevance,” the Feakle native added.
Members of the public are right to be suspicious of supporters clubs, the two-time National Hurling League winner stated. The absence of audited accounts for the supporters club from 2012 to 2016 has been discussed recently, no such accounts were also provided by the equivalent group during Loughnane’s tenure as Clare boss. “I fully understand people’s suspicion of supporters clubs due to recent revelations but Club Clare is completely different. Club Clare has both structure and governance. Most importantly, it is comprised of quality people who are completely genuine in their concern for the future of the games in Clare. Uniquely, it contains two outstanding women and is committed to the development of hurling and camogie, which is the way that all GAA activities of the future should be”.
Club Clare membership has already been acquired by Loughnane, he confirmed. “It is in time of crisis that we are all most tested and the fact that, in these trying times, such quality people have put their heads above the parapet and are prepared to give the much-needed leadership, gives me hope once again for the future. But they need the help of all of us. I urge you to give them that help”.
Pat Keogh of Newmarket-on-Fergus succeeds John Kerin as the Chairperson of Club Clare, former Minister for Defence Tony Killeen is the secretary with Caroline O’Connor on board as Treasurer. Clare senior hurling manager Brian Lohan is also part of the committee alongside two time All-Ireland winner Frank Lohan, Munster senior camogie championship medallist Deirdre Murphy, two-time All Star John Callinan, Clare GAA coach Peter Casey, Eoin Conroy of Titan Experience, manager of Clare development sides Kieran McDermott, Ennis-based jeweller Tadg Collins, financial advisor Tommy Corbett and founder of Lenmac services, John Lenihan.