U21 captain Cleary was playing senior club championship for Kilmaley against Inagh-Kilnamona when he collapsed in agony early in the second half.
Kilmaley manager PJ Kennedy said there was no stretcher available and Cleary had to be lifted from the field and carried down the corner of the ground to an ambulance. It has since emerged that Cleary has a fractured ankle and will be out of action for up to six weeks.
“Conor was clearing a ball but he couldn’t get a swing at it because he was being closed down,” Kennedy told Clare FM. “He swung out a leg and the other leg went from under him.
“Next thing he let off a bit of a roar. We knew he was in trouble and Rory Hickey, the referee, stopped the match. He went to the sideline and said, ‘can somebody get a stretcher?’
“There were stewards standing there. They were all looking at each other and nobody knew anything. There was no stretcher. It was very unsavoury.
“To make a long story short, we carted him off the field the same as if he was an auld dog. It wasn’t good enough.”
The Kimaley manager said that there was no medical aid available at the ground. “Absolutely nothing. There wasn’t even a crutch, there wasn’t a wheelchair, there was nothing there. It could have been a neck or spinal injury. What were we going to do then? Then we had to leave him on the sideline, thrown up against the fence. The ambulance was called then.
“In the meantime we had to try and comfort him but thankfully the pain that he had was easing. Then the paramedics came up along the sideline to have a look at him. They had no stretcher either so he had to be carried down to the corner to the ambulance,” he explained.
He praised the Kilmaley and Inagh-Kilnamona medical teams for their efforts in making Cleary comfortable before he was removed to hospital.
However the Clare County Board last night insisted a stretcher was available.
“It’s regrettable that Conor Cleary was injured while playing for Kilmaley in Cusack Park on Saturday. Conor is an outstanding Clare hurler and footballer. All in Clare GAA wish him a speedy recovery. Subsequent to his injury Conor was moved from the pitch with the assistance of the Kilmaley physiotherapist. Contrary to reports a stretcher was available in Cusack Park on Saturday evening. However upon the advice of the relevant emergency medical services, it was deemed unnecessary for use in this particular case. Clare GAA would like to record its gratitude to the ambulance services and HSE for their prompt attention and professional service that they provided,” the Clare GAA statement read.