CLARE senior hurling manager David Fitzgerald spoke to local media in Clare this evening and outlined his plans for 2015.
Fitzgerald also addressed the dual player issue and had some interesting things to say about the coming year, wishing Podge and Sean Collins all the with the Clare footballers along with their father Colm.
“I really believe Clare can do well in Division 3 and can rattle Munster, we’d love to see that happen,” he said this evening.
He added that it was the unanimous view of the Clare management that the dual player experiment did not work for the hurling squad in 2014, although stressing that this was not the sole reason Clare did not retain their title this summer.
Fitzgerald also said that after his statement tonight he would not be commenting any further on the dual player issue. He also asked media to give Podge Collins space and room to get on his life and football.
The Clare manager outlined some reshuffling in his backroom team for 2015, with Mike Browne joining as a selector, swapping roles with Mike Deegan who reverts to Browne’s previous position as a match day analyst.
Paul Kinnerk is taking a year out of the coaching role with both Clare U-21s as well as seniors, planning to travel and pursue educational interests. The Shannon based teacher is expected to rejoin the Banner set-up in 2016.
Strength and Conditioning expert Joe O’Connor is also taking a step back but will still have limited involvement with the squad in 2015.
Fitzgerald will be finalising his playing panel over the coming weeks.
David Fitzgerald statement on dual players
Podge Collins informed us a while back that in 2015 he will be playing football only. We have no issue with that except of course that we’d love to have him with us.
We tried to accommodate the dual player in 2014 and it did not work for either party in our opinion, player or management. Of course this was not the reason that we did not win a Munster or All-Ireland championship, we are well aware of that. However it was one of many factors.
For the coming year we want players on our panel fully committed to Clare hurling. Our goal is to get Clare hurling back to Croke Park in September. We are completely focussed on that.
We spoke to Podge and explained our position. We felt Clare hurling suffered last year as he attempted to combine both codes. We did not have Podge with us as often as we would have liked and we felt his recovery between games was not what it could have been. With the demands made of inter-county players nowadays it is a huge sacrifice and commitment to play one code, let alone two, and it must be remembered that we tried in every way to accommodate Podge and Sean in 2014.
However when reviewing our year, it was clear to us that the dual situation affected performances, hindered training and recovery. As a management team we want what’s best for Clare hurling. That is our job. We were of the unanimous view that for the coming year we need a panel focussed only on Clare hurling.
There is no issue with Podge or Sean Collins, Both have won All-Irelands with us, we have all soldiered together, winning and losing matches. They are a credit to their club and a credit to Clare. We’ll always have great time for both young men. That will never change.
We wish them both well with the Clare footballers in Division 3 come springtime and we hope the progress under Colm Collins continues. Colm is their father, it can’t have been easy for all of them. We really hope they rattle Munster next year, we know they’re capable of it, we’ll be supporting them.
Of course the door will always be open for a return to the hurling squad.
On a personal note I would ask everyone, media in particular, to give Podge a break now. This was a very difficult decision for us, I can only imagine how difficult it was for him. He needs to be left alone now to concentrate on football and get on with his life and career. We won’t make any further comment on this situation only to wish both Podge and Sean, along with Colm, the best of luck for the coming year.
Davy Fitzgerald statement on the coming year
As a management team we have had a number of meetings over the past few weeks as we look to finalise our set-up and preparations for the coming year.
In that time Clare hurling received another massive boost with the victory of the U-21 hurlers, another All-Ireland championship for the county and one that further underlines the potential available to us in 2015 and beyond at senior level.
Our congratulations to all involved, in particular Donal and Gerry, Jimmy Browne and of course Paul Kinnerk, who has been a vital link between the senior and U-21 squads.
When sitting down to talk about 2015 our management tram faced a number of challenges, not least putting everything in place to get Clare hurling back to Croke Park and winning a senior All-Ireland over the next three years.
On the management side there will be some changes but I would like to stress that these are not major changes. Mike Browne will be joining us as a selector and Mike Deegan will move into the role that Mike Browne previously held, so Mike Deegan will still be involved.
Joe O’Connor has been with me for five years now in Waterford and Clare, while he is stepping back, he will still be involved as well. So we are not losing Joe or Mike.
Paul Kinnerk has been with us for three years as well as combining that role with a key role with the U-21s. Paul has spoken to us numerous times about his wish too take some time out to travel and take a break from the serious time commitments his roles involve. We fully understand that not only support Paul in his intention to step back, but we are also delighted to announce that he will be with us again in 2016.
Paul is only taking a break and no-one can begrudge him that. He has given Clare hurling everything these past three years, no-one deserves it more. We’ll miss him, his professionalism and expertise, but the good news is we’ll have him back next year.
We will be in contact with our playing squad for 2015 over the coming weeks, naturally there will be some changes to the personnel. We will certainly be looking at some of the All-Ireland U-21 winning squad not already on the panel, while we have also had representatives at every club match in Clare watching the progress of a number of players.
As a management team we are eagerly looking forward to getting back to hurling related matters. We didn’t win in 2014, something that was always going to be doubly difficult the year after our incredible All-Ireland journey. But 2015 is a new year and we are starting back with a clear road ahead of us in terms of preparations.
This time last year those were the furthest things from our minds because we spent a lot of time celebrating our All-Ireland win. We don’t regret a second of that. There is no point winning All-Irelands in a county like ours if you cannot celebrate it properly. We did that.
Now our job is to get back there. To get Clare hurling back in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day over the next three years. To enjoy that again. We know a little bit about the hard work needed to get there. That’s where our focus is now.
Statement from Paul Kinnerk
After having had five wonderful seasons working with Clare GAA at minor, U21 and senior level,
I wish to take a short break to pursue both personal and educational interests.
I would love to return to coaching in Clare in the near future as I have always possessed my parents passion for the county.
In addition the wonderful working relationships and friendships I have developed with various management teams and players over the last few years ensured that I would have a very strong desire to make further contributions to Clare success on the playing field.
I wish both the senior and U-21 teams and management the very best in 2015.
Statement from Mike Deegan
After three years full time involvement with the Clare senior hurlers I have decided to step back from my role as a full time selector. However I will still be part of the Clare set-up and my role is changing to being involved mostly on match days with the management and squad.
It is very difficult to step back completely from this special group of players and management. This is why I am staying on in this background, match day capacity.
My reasons for not remaining as a full time selector are simply down to time pressures. Being part of the management set-up of a senior inter county hurling side is quite literally a full time occupation. Juggling hurling commitments with family and work is an exceptionally difficult task and I feel that three years at that was enough four me.
But Clare hurling is a drug and so are this special team and management, so I am delighted to still be involved in some capacity with them.
Statement from Joe O’Connor
I joined the Clare senior set-up in 2012 because Davy Fitzgerald asked me. I had previously worked with Davy in Waterford and joined him in Clare because I was aware of the professionalism he brings to a team dynamic and I enjoy working in that environment.
That was three years ago and my original intention was to stay two years. That was a magical two years that culminated in Clare winning the All-Ireland senior title in 2013. In that time I built some wonderful friendships, in particular with players and I was privileged to be part of that set-up.
After that incredible year I tried to step back from the senior set-up but Davy convinced me to stay on and he is a hard man to say no to. I will however be stepping back for the coming season.
Since this time last year we have welcomed our second child and I have also been on this treadmill between Tralee and Waterford, Tralee and Clare for over four years. While it is very enjoyable it is also incredibly time-consuming. I do need little breather.
This has not been a difficult decision because I am not stepping away full time from the management or squad. I will still be involved with the Clare senior hurlers in 2015 but in a much more reduced and limited role. I also want to take this opportunity to wish Kelvin well in his new role.