THE departure of Dónal Óg Cusack from the Clare senior hurling management team was officially confirmed to Clare County Board delegates by joint-manager Dónal Moloney at last Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the Clare County Board.
And as the Corkman’s resignation — precipitated by the controversy that erupted surrounding the reference he gave to his friend, convicted paedophile Tom Humphries who was the ghostwriter of his autobiography — was finally confirmed his commitment to the Banner County set-up was praised by both Moloney and Clare County Board chairman Joe Cooney.
“You are probably aware that Dónal issued his official resignation this evening,” Mr Moloney told the meeting — the endgame for Cusack and the Clare set-up after over a week of speculation that his his departure was imminent.
On 14 October, via Twitter, Cusack admitted that he had proved a character reference for Humphries, a move that was motivated to “help a human in a dark place”.
Continuing he said “I absolutely condemn the crimes he has committed. I cannot begin to imagine the terrible suffering of the victim. I apologise for any hurt or offence caused by my action. My intention was to help a human in a dark place who asked me for help.
“I showed lack of judgement in this situation for which I am genuinely sorry. I will not be making any further comment and wish to let Justice take its course,” he added.
No specific reference was made to the events that led to Cusack’s resignation at Tuesday’s meeting at Clare GAA headquarters in Áras Uí Chíosóg, but it was revealed that just two days after Cusack released his first statement that a decision was made to end his involvement with the Clare team.
In the course of a review of the county senior team’s performances in 2017, joint-manager Moloney outlined the deliberations by the management team, that included Cusack, as they started preparations for the 2018 season.
Referring to the internal review of 2017 after the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Tipperary he said that it began “in depth in August” and that “the management team of 2017 was all part of that. We continued to do that work through September, making the plans for 2018.
“As we got closer to getting back on the field in terms of interaction, we’re preparing for the Super 11s in Boston on 19th of November — last week started training on the pitch in UL. In the lead up to that we made a collective decision around our management team for 2018. We continued them without Dónal Óg as of last week — on Monday of last week (16 October).
“You are obviously aware of how sensitive a subject that is, right. We became aware of it two weeks ago. We had a number of discussions and we agreed on yesterday week to continue on and we started our preparations (without Cusack),” he added.
But as he left the set-up after two years, the three-time All-Ireland winner with Cork was praised for his commitment to Clare hurling. “There were a lot of questions raised around expenses,” said Moloney. “That’s something that always circulates in the GAA and there’s always a lot of speculation around the whole area of expenses.
“From our perspective we all firmly believe in the voluntary ethos of the GAA. We have always held true to that principal and every coach we’ve had involved over nine years now, between minor and 21 and our first year senior they get mileage rates. End of.
They don’t get any other support or sponsorship, or endorsement from any other source. They get mileage
“We sometimes hear figures that are bandied about. There is absolutely no foundation and if there’s any concrete evidence people need to support that we will absolutely show you. We have a fantastic group in Club Clare that conduct their business with great integrity and transparency.
“There was a question raised about a house. Speculation can arise. The only house the man (Dónal Óg Cusack) stayed in was actually my home on two nights. I want to be clear on that. It important that the voluntary ethos of Clare isn’t tainted by what people perceive maybe be happening at a senior inter-county level.
“The man in question often left Caherlohan at 10.30 at night and drove 100 miles to Cloyne and was back in Clonlara to do a ball session at 8.30 the following morning. We had that situation on a regular basis.
“We thank Dónal Óg for what he did in the last two years in Clare. There was no more committed man. He was involved because it was a privilege to work in Clare — that was always his philosophy and always his view. We thank him. He resigned as of this evening,” he added.
These words of praise were echoed by board chairman, Joe Cooney. “Clare GAA want to thank Dónal Óg for what he did for the Clare senior team and management over he last two years as well,” he said.
“He has been very fair to this county I must say, and he really put the effort in, the same as the management that was there last year and Davy Fitzgerald and his backroom team. We want to thank Dónal Óg for that,” he added.
In his resignation statement Cusack wished everyone involved with the Clare team “the very best both on and off the field.
“I have many good memories that I carry with me from Clare Hurling and I am grateful to all who have shared in creating those,” he added.