Ger O’Connell has stepped down as manager of the Clare senior camogie side.
O’Connell announced to players in the aftermath of their six point win over Westmeath that he would be seeking an extension to his tenure from the Clare Camogie Board.
Appointed in the winter of 2018, the Clonlara man brought with him the largest management team ever seen by the county senior camogie side. Of the ten individuals included in the original ticket alongside Ger, only his brother Barry O’Connell remained in their role for the three years, he is also stepping down from his role.
Clare made the All-Ireland quarter-finals in 2020 under O’Connell’s watch, it was their first time appearing in the knockout stages since 2014. A memorable League win was also recorded over Kilkenny in Nowlan Park last year.
This year’s run was a disappointing one with Clare involved in a relegation battle in the League after losing out to Galway and Limerick while they suffered six points losses to Galway and Kilkenny in the championship.
Prior to the county role, Ger was involved with Truagh/Clonlara guiding them to senior shield success and two consecutive appearances in the senior championship semi-finals.
On the field of play, he was the netminder of the Clare team which claimed All-Ireland minor glory in 1997 while at club level he won a memorable Clare SHC medal in 2008 and is also the holder of three Clare Cup medals.
Meelick’s Conor Dolan who was previously involved with Galway’s senior camogie side when they tasted All-Ireland success, Éanna Mulvihill of the Parteen club, Stephen Cusack of Newmarket-on-Fergus and Ruan’s Francie O’Halloran were part of O’Connell’s management in 2021. It is unclear if the quartet will be involved next year.
Other names expected to be linked with the vacancy include Inagh/Kilnamona’s Eugene Foudy, Junior joint managers Tim McGrath and Anne Marie McGann with former All Star Catherine O’Loughlin and Alan Hehir of Newmarket-on-Fergus viewed as potential selectors.
Speaking following Clare’s final outing of the year, O’Connell detailed that gaining an early lead against Westmeath was critical to them avoiding a relegation scare. “We won the game, that is what it was all about, we didn’t want to be going again in the next week or two into relegation. It has been a frustrating year, we wanted to go further obviously”.
Missed goal chances were described as the team’s “Achilles heel” during their campaign this year by the outgoing manager.
He refuted a question from The Clare Echo that the county have failed to produce more than one big performance per year during his tenure. “I think we matched them (Galway) in the championship, it wasn’t just one league performance, I thought the first half performance was just as good, our use of ball and turning teams over, we get on amounts of ball but we’re maybe over playing it at times. I disagree with you saying we’ve only had one good performance all year, I thought we never gave in against Kilkenny, I don’t believe in that statement”.
“There is progress that has been made I feel but the results don’t match that,” he acknowledged.
A change is needed to the manner in which the Camogie Association seed teams in the All-Ireland series, he felt. “They are not going to listen to me about the draw but the top two in Ireland should never be put in the same group. They should always be split, the losing semi-finalists should also be seeded. We were unlucky in the draw, I thought we hold our own against them but we’re just not at that level yet, that is being straight up. It is the level you want to get to but it takes an awful lot of hard work. We put on an awful lot on for the girls between analysis, nutrition, psychology, S&C, it is all in play and it is about building on it”.