THE Clare minor footballers in 2014. Where do you start?
Maybe by giving the players some credit with the way they died with their boots on last Tuesday and heroically tried to clutch victory from the jaws of a defeat that was staring them in the face after just 13 seconds when Waterford swooped for the first of their six goals.
Well done lads, there was honour in defeat.
Thing is, Clare minor football was an unmitigated disaster waiting to happen in 2014 and it came to pass on Tuesday night last in Dungarvan with the crushing defeat – anytime you concede six goals in a championship game is a crushing experience.
And it was a disaster waiting to happen from last July, because of the way the whole process of appointing the management for 2014 was carried out under the cloak of secrecy that would have done the Irish Republican Brotherhood justice.
In case you’ve forgotten, here’s what was in the pages of The Clare People back then:
‘Football people should be up in arms because of the way the Clare County Board went about its business last Tuesday night (July 9, 2013).
‘By dint of stealth, it had all the hallmarks of a cunning plan to railroad the ratification of the county minor football management for 2014 and beyond. Railroad the ratification at the expense of openness and transparency – these two things were the big losers in the whole exercise.
‘All because, by any stretch of any football imagination out there in Clare, it was wrong and flawed. You could go so far as to say that it was did football no justice at all in the rush at Clare County Board level to anoint Aidan O’Keeffe, Joe Considine and Tony Byrne as the county minor management team for 2014, 2015 and 2016. And that’s saying nothing about the coaching and management qualities of the above mentioned.’
It was all to do with the manner of the appointment:
‘The Clare People has learned that last Monday night at 10.42pm an email went out to every club in the county summoning them to a special meeting of the Clare County Board to take place at Áras Uí Chíosóg, Clareabbey on Tuesday night at 9pm.
The email notification, as seen by The Clare People, said the following: ‘I wish to advise that a special board meeting has been called for tomorrow evening, July 9, at GAA headquarters, Clareabbey, Clarecastle at 9pm to deal with borrowing authorisation for Clare GAA’.
That was the agenda for the meeting – a county board financial matter, with the county minor football management or any other management not down on the agenda.
Yet, it was clearly part of the agenda – in this case the unwritten agenda and one to be sprung on delegates, by stealth and with no warning in the hope that it would be done with, dusted with and rubberstamped with the minimum of fuss.
It’s not a way to do business.
Clare football deserves better than this – the appointment of any management team at any grade and in any code deserves much better than to be subject to such blatant subterfuge. This is what Clare football is reduced to. It’s a sad reflection and a sad indictment that we think so little of the game. And, that’s saying nothing about the fact that the appointment of any management should be put before a full meeting of the Clare County Board, something that the gathering in Clareabbey on Tuesday night last was most definitely not.’
The article concluded by quoting from a Clare Journal report on the state of Clare football in the early 1900s:
‘Why do you not rise, one of you, or some of you and switch the search light on the rottenness that is eating the heart out of the game? If you are sincere men, looking on the national games from a national standpoint, you will get at the root of the evil by allowing your judgment at board meeting to follow the moral laid down by Davis in his immortal couplet, that it requires “righteous men to make our land, a nation once again”.’
What say you now after the disastrous campaign?
Suffice to say that serious questions need to be asked at the next meeting of the Clare County Board, when there HAS to be a debate on the state of underage football in the county as a matter or urgency.
Why such a small panel of players? Is it to do with lack of funding or a lack of training facilities? Why was there only one selector, as Joe Considine, although ratified by the board at that infamous meeting last July was never with the team and had flagged this fact in advance of any real team preparations beginning?
Why was there only one challenge game played between the end of the Leinster League and the first round against Kerry? The folly of this was exposed by the fact that there were then 11 positional changes between the Kerry game and the Limerick game a week later. What it because of lack of funding (remember when they played that one challenge up in Mullingar, they were gone for the day and only got a cup of tea, a sandwich and a banana to keep them nourished)?
Why no dual players? Is the dual player at underage level in Clare dead? Is there a secret policy that dual players are not being encouraged at underage level in the county? After all, the Waterford team that beat Clare last Tuesday had seven dual players.
And what about the slew of players many football aficionados around the county consider to be good enough to be part of a Clare minor panel in 2014?
Killian Brennan from Clondegad, Dara Walsh and Conor O’Halloran from Éire Óg, Óisín Hanrahan and Seamus Collins from Lissycasey, Colm Rice from Corofin, Sean Malone and Colin Hehir from St Joseph’s Miltown, Darragh Leahy and Brian Monaghan from Wolfe Tones, while Ennistymon who have been the strongest underage club in Clare in recent years surely had a few. There are probably more.
And the questions don’t end there.
Who is going to be charged with reviewing the minor football year activities and what will the terms of reference of that review be?
With the minor championship over, will the under 17 footballers in the county now be summoned together to begin preparations for the defence of their provincial championship?
Are the management teams for the development squads at under 14 and 16 level? If they have been selected, by whom?
Questions. Questions. Questions.
It’s time there were some answers, or else, as the forecast in this column was a few weeks ago, ‘Clare underage football will be driven back 20 years’.
THE Clare minor footballers in 2014. Where do you start?