By John Fogarty
Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald has pulled off a remarkable coup by landing Dónal Óg Cusack as coach and selector for 2016.
Three-time All-Ireland winner Cusack will relinquish his roles as GPA chairman and panellist with The Sunday Game to link up with his fellow former inter-county goalkeeper. He also announced he has ended his playing career with his club Cloyne.
The pair have enjoyed a good relationship in recent years and Cusack has been high in his praise for the Sixmilebridge man's tactics in spite of two disappointing championships since the 2013 All-Ireland victory.
Announcing Cusack's appointment, Fitzgerald said in a statement: "I am delighted to welcome Donal Óg, Aonghus (O'Brien, coach) and Jimmy (Payne, strength and conditioning) to the setup. Their collective experience and expertise will further strengthen the already high quality backroom team in place.
"Over the next few weeks, there may be one or two additions announced to the backroom team and the panel. It is my intention to finalise the provisional panel at the end of January ahead of the commencement of the Allianz National Hurling League."
Cusack confirmed: "I am looking forward to the challenge and want to thank Davy Fitzgerald for the opportunity. Ahead of assuming my coaching position in Clare, I have met with RTE and following mutual agreement I have been released from my contract. I would like to sincerely thank RTE for the experience they have given me.
"I will be seeing out my term as chairperson of the Gaelic Players Association (GPA), which will come to an end this year. I have also spoken with my local club, Cloyne to confirm my decision to retire from club hurling. I would like to thank the club for the support it has shown me throughout my career."
Fitzgerald also confirmed Podge Collins will rejoin the panel.