Relegation chaos led to headache for Clare's McNamara

Mike McNamara has said that the controversial relegation scenario involving Clare in last year's Championship helped cause discontent in the squad and was a factor in his ending his involvement as the Banner's senior hurling boss.

Mike McNamara has said that the controversial relegation scenario involving Clare in last year's Championship helped cause discontent in the squad and was a factor in his ending his involvement as the Banner's senior hurling boss.

In his first interview since resigning as Clare senior hurling manager last December, McNamara says that disharmony emerged when the players and management clashed over whether Clare would field against Wexford in the relegation semi-final at Portlaoise last July.

"We had no real discontent until we were faced with the relegation battle - which was mind-boggling," the Scariff publican said.

"It was a decision that was made and passed obviously by delegates half asleep at a meeting or something. We found ourselves there with Wexford, Antrim and Offaly in that situation.

"That shouldn't have been frightening; if we couldn't fight our way out of that, then we shouldn't be in the top flight. That would have been the opinion of the management, but the players seemed to see it differently. The players seemed to think that they could decide not to play."

McNamara revealed that initially clearance was given not to play the game, but when it emerged that failure to field a team would result in a 48-week suspension, and have a knock-on effect on the Clare under 21 side that were due to play a Munster final against Waterford on the following Wednesday night, management decided to proceed with the relegation play-off.

"The decision not to play that was taken initially and of course rejected out of hand completely by the county board, and of course management; knowing that two things were important," he said.

"One was the rule stated categorically that you would get a 48-week suspension from all inter-county activities (for not fielding). That had to be looked at because that was the rule, and whether we like rules or we don't like rules - that was the rule," he told the BannerRoar podcast.

"Added to that of course was that our under 21's were in a Munster final with a realistic chance of winning, which of course they did in Dungarvan on the following Wednesday. So a real ill-humour and ill-harmony developed in a series of meetings between management and players.

"The players were adamant that this was unnecessary. The management were adament that it had to be played and it was part and parcel of the rules. In fact after a series of meetings and phone calls and discussion, 21 players sat down to take a decision on it. All players knew that the decision they made would have far-reaching implications for hurling in Clare.

"One of the biggest implications would be that of the 21's, 11 of them were on the senior panel; and wouldn't be playing a Munster final. The fact that seven of those voted to strike would have meant that if the same management stayed in place, that those seven players would never be given the Clare crest to strike on their lapel by the existing management. That's the start of the issues."

McNamara says that there were also problems with indiscipline in the panel, including when he initially took over as manager in 2007.

"Some of the players seemed to feel it was ok if some of their teammates didn't give 100% or 110%. Some of those issues popped up in year one and as a management team we were determined that we would correct (those issues), as they possibly affected a team performance in the ll-Ireland quarter-final against Cork.

"That was a match that was lost by a point. We felt that when we sat down for year two that discipline was an issue. You must remember that we took over in a cloud of what was the Davy Fitz incident ...and the Gerry Quinn incident. We took over in a cloud of controversy and tried to calm the waters and did it very successfully for a year and a half or thereabouts.

"All the same issues surfaced again - surfacing while some of those same players were still involved."

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