Davy Fitzgerald has admitted that his Clare hurlers may have peaked too early during this year’s Allianz National Hurling League campaign.
The Banner County gained promotion from Division 1B back to the top flight –before going on to win the competition outright.
But Clare flattered to deceive once again in the championship, losing to Waterford in the Munster semi-final before exiting the All-Ireland series with a quarter-final defeat to Galway.
Fitzgerald called time on his five-year tenure last night and in a review of the 2016 season, read out to county board delegates last night, Fitzgerald reflected: “It was a progressive year for the team, in which we played 17 competitive games, winning 14.
“In this timeframe, we won the Munster League, regained Division 1A status by attaining promotion and in the process, won the National Hurling League for Clare after a 38-year gap.
“We worked hard to prepare for the League as it was felt necessary to play at our best to attain promotion.
“On reflection, we may have peaked early but did prepare very well for the championship followed, in which we won two out of four games.
“We exited at the quarter-final stage. Historically, we had a pretty good year and concluding my tenure as Clare senior hurling manager, I wish to thank the county board, our sponsor Pat O’Donnell, my backroom people I worked so hard with, Clare Supporters Club, and finally the players who wore the Clare jersey with such pride and passion in my five years as manager.
“I am immensely proud of our achievements together and take pride in the fact that I was part of creating history for the county of Clare that I love with all my heart.”
There was no movement on a possible successor to Fitzgerald at last night’s gathering in Caherlohan and it is understood that clubs are invited to nominate prospective candidates through their club secretaries.
No sub-committee has been installed as of yet but a meeting in a fortnight’s time should advance the process.
Local newspaper reports yesterday suggest that former All-Ireland U21 winning joint-managers Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor remain the front-runners to team up again, this time at senior level.
Meanwhile, it is now almost certain that Colm Collins will return for a fourth year in charge of the Clare senior footballers.
In his review of the season, Collins hailed promotion from Division 3 of the Allianz League and stated that “the importance of gaining promotion and playing in Division 2 in 2017 cannot be overstated.”
But Collins expressed disappointment with Clare’s championship performances against Kerry – as the Banner County suffered defeats to the Kingdom in the Munster semi-final and again at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage.
Referring first to the provincial clash, Collins admitted: “We were extremely disappointed with our performance on the day.
“In the qualifiers, we had three victories against Laois, Sligo and Roscommon. The Roscommon victory was a very special day – our first victory against Division 1 opposition.”
Commenting on the Kerry loss later in the season at Croke Park, Collins added: “Yet again, we were left unsatisfied with our performance and Kerry ran out comfortable winners.
“Overall, we are satisfied with our progress in 2016 and we feel the team is improving all the time.”
While hailing the impressive training facility for county teams at Caherlohan, Collins also noted: “One area that could be improved on is the gym, it needs to be updated, but everything else is top class.”
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