The Clare footballers’ preparations for tomorrow’s Munster semi-final with Kerry has indirectly led to a stand off between four senior football clubs and the county board.
Last weekend, three division 1 league games did not take place as county champions Kilmurry Ibrickane, 2015 champions St Joseph’s Miltown and Clondegad all refused to line out without their county players as did Éire Óg, Ennis in a Division 2 league tie.
It is expected walkovers will be awarded to O’Curry’s, Doonbeg, Lissycasey and St Breckan’s, Lisdoonvarna respectively, while county board chairman Joe Cooney has said the clubs who failed to show, may also be fined.
Kilmurry Ibrickane manager Aidan Moloney has defended his clubs decision not to field a team for the sixth round game against O’Curry’s. The table-toppers would have had to do so without county footballers Martin McMahon and Keelan Sexton.
Moloney, who led Kilmurry Ibrickane to a championship and Cusack Cup double in 2016, feels the clubs who may benefit from the potential walkovers have a decision to make.
“It’s one thing the county board saying that the results are walkovers but will the other clubs take them? That will be the question, whether the four teams involved will do that or not. Everyone can stick their heads in the sand and take what they like. They can take two points, run away and be happy with themselves. As a management team we felt strongly that we wanted our players to play,” Moloney stated.
He queried why delegates supported the masters fixtures plan, which was mandated at a county board meeting earlier this year.
“What kind of delegates would go to a county board meeting and agree to play without their county players?
“Any club that has county players, why would they vote to be without them? I think it’s demeaning the competition. They’re (county board) putting up a statue of Michael Cusack and they turn around then and force clubs to play without their players. If you want to encourage people to go and play for the county, you can’t stop them playing for their club. The county board are disrespecting the players by putting them in the position that they were put,” the 1992 Munster championship winner claimed.
However Clare County Board chairman Joe Cooney has said that the fixtures committee is obliged to adhere to the masters fixtures plan.
“The fixtures plan was out in draft form for three weeks with the clubs. If clubs had concerns about fixtures on it, they could have raised them. It was put to the floor, proposed, seconded and passed by the clubs. The hands of the County Competitions Committee (CCC) are tied completely to that fixtures plan. The only way that can be changed is by the clubs,” the county board chairman explained. It was passed at a county board meeting that if there are walkovers given, without contacting the county secretary, there is a penalty,” Joe Cooney added.
Meanwhile, Clare football selector David O’Brien has said that fixing a full round of league games, eight days before a Munster semi-final, was not ideal. “It didn’t really make much sense to fix it but in fairness to the masters fixtures people, they can only do what they think is best and wait for people to come back to them.
“You’d feel sorry for the players because it’s suggested that they are wrapped in cotton wool but they sacrifice everything in their lives to be ready for Kerry. Ideally, you’d love the clubs to have them for every game but if that’s the case, there will have to be something about when the games are played.”
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