*Niall Romer & Martin Enright. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
New management teams are finding it more difficult to advance in the 2020 Clare SHC and SFC which has been dubbed as “the COVID championship”.
Of the seven teams through to the quarter-finals of the Clare SHC, just three are under new managements for the season while of the seven teams left in the Clare SFC less than half of the teams still standing are led by fresh faces. Preparations for all clubs were impacted by COVID-19 with training suspended across the country on account of the virus.
Limerick’s Donach O’Donnell has led O’Callaghans Mills back into the quarter-finals of the Clare SHC for the first time since 2018.
Former Clare senior hurling selector, Jimmy Browne has also successfully navigated his way into the last eight in his opening campaign as manager of the Broadford senior hurlers.
Back for his second stint with Kilmaley senior hurlers, Kieran O’Neill completes the line up of new managers advancing to the quarter-finals. He was coach when they won the 2004 championship but is now manager and saw his side recover from a first round defeat to see off Wolfe Tones on Saturday.
Should Cratloe overcome Éire Óg on Sunday, Conor Earley will bring the figure up to four of new managers in the quarter-finals.
However for the majority of new managers, advancing to the business end has not been as easy. Eddie Horgan (Clonlara), Noel Harrison (Clooney/Quin), Ray Diviney (Wolfe Tones) and John Tuohy (Newmarket-on-Fergus) would have cited the absence of the Clare Cup as a hindrance to their championship preparations.
James Carrig (Crusheen) and Terence Fahy (Whitegate) were in their second seasons in charge while Rodger McMahon although a new appointment in Clarecastle previously oversaw their run to the semi-finals in 2014.
Equally in the Clare SFC, managers in the first year are finding it difficult to advance. Of three teams qualified for the semi-finals, only John Ryan in Lissycasey is in his first campaign as both Donie Garrihy (St Breckans) and Aiden Moloney (Kilmurry Ibrickane) are making their experience count.
Four teams are left fighting for the final semi-final spot. Of these teams, Maurice Reidy (St Josephs Miltown) and joint manager Flan Enright and Kevin Walsh (Clondegad) will hope to improve the statistics for new managers while the opposite will be the case for David Russell (Cooraclare) and Colm Collins (Cratloe).