Presenting the accounts of the Clare County Board to convention, Keane outlined how spend on Clare teams had fallen by €50,501 this year. Total expenditure on the county’s flagship teams came in at €710,175, down from €760,676 in 2017.
The decision of O’Connor and Moloney not to claim expenses from the board in 2017 was a key factor in team expenses decreasing, Keane stressed.
The expenses of Donal Óg Cusack, a member of the senior hurling backroom team this year, was paid by supporters body Club Clare, delegates were told.
Chartered accountant Anthony Fitzpatrick, who assisted Keane in preparing the finance report, said it was “very comforting” to see a reduction in team spending. It was revealed that Club Clare, in their first year in existence, contributed €47,120 to the running of the Clare senior hurling team.
Despite Clare’s national league share falling by €126k, the board still recorded an overall surplus of €136,607. Total income was €1,883,866, with expenditure coming in at €1,747,259.
In his secretary’s report, Pat Fitzgerald expressed concern that the changes to the All-Ireland senior hurling and football championship would worsen the plight of the already marginalised club player. He fears club players will face an even later start date than is now the case and that club championships will be crammed into the latter end of the season.
“Croke Park plan to leave the month of April free for club fixtures before introducing a round-robin system in the Munster hurling championship where teams will play four games over five weekends. While the concept behind leaving April fixture-free for clubs is admirable, it will achieve very little,” Fitzgerald wrote. “Inter-county managers will be in the throes of their championship preparations and they will not want players playing club fixtures. I cannot see county players being released to play club games. I can only see league fixtures going ahead and only with the consent of clubs playing without their inter-county players.”
With regard to the drawing up of a master fixtures plan at club level, Fitzgerald reckons the board are in a no-win situation.
“That schedule is supposed to be set in stone, but past experiences illustrate that it never is. Unfortunately, it is grassroots that are the ones that suffer and, in truth, that situation is becoming intolerable. And I must emphasise that while a lot of criticism is directed at the county board and the fixtures committee, clubs shouldn’t be immune to that criticism either. Perhaps a more ruthless approach may be required from the board but then if we adopt that approach, we will be accused of being dictators.”
Fitzgerald added: “The level of disillusionment among club players is understandable. They feel disenfranchised. Unfortunately, the whole championship structure as determined by Croke Park next year leaves little room for manoeuvre.”
In his chairman’s address, Joe Cooney said the Munster senior hurling final defeat to Cork was “disappointing” as this was a game “Clare could have won”. That was an afternoon where the Banner support was severely outnumbered by Cork’s following at Thurles. Cooney is hopeful this won’t be repeated in 2018, especially for their two home games in the Munster SHC.
“Let there be no excuse next year, we call on all our supporters to come together and fill the recently-renovated Cusack Park.”
There were changes to the top table, with Michael Gallagher (Doonbeg) succeeding Keane as treasurer. Anne Hayes (Lissycasey) was elected, unopposed, to the position of assistant secretary, Rosaleen Monaghan (Tubber) is the new development officer. Sean O’Halloran moves from PRO to coaching and games officer. The role of PRO was not filled. John Fall (Ennistymon) takes on the role of Central Council delegate.