Mick O’Dwyer is back in management and ready to turn the Clare footballers into a force to be reckoned with – at 76 years of age.
The Kerry hero was appointed as Clare’s new boss last Friday night and has already got down to business with the beaten Munster finalists.
Having brought success to Wicklow, Laois and Kildare in the recent past, the All-Ireland winning former Kerry manager is keen to develop Clare football.
After agreeing a two-year term in office, O’Dwyer said, “Clare have been knocking on the door for a few years now, but, like Wicklow, my primary goal is to lift the profile of football in the county from underage up.
“Hurling has always been the number one game in Clare, but there’s a big football catchment area and I’ll be in the heart of it.”
Clare legend Francis McInerney, who captained the county in their historic 1992 Munster SFC final win over Kerry, believes O’Dwyer can lift the fortunes of the Banner and doesn’t see his age as a problem.
McInerney told the Irish Sun, “If the players don’t come out for Mick O’Dwyer, then who will they come out for?
“Nobody knows football in Ireland like O’Dwyer and he seems to be coming into the job full of enthusiasm.
“It was a bit of a surprise when his name was mentioned first of all. But he does seem enthusiastic and his age shouldn’t be an issue, all teams have strength and conditioning trainers and so on now, so I don’t see that as a problem.
“If Micko can use his experience to get into the minds of the Clare footballers and get all the players involved who might not have been playing, that can only be a good thing.”
O’Dwyer has already targeted promotion from Division Four of the National League as his priority, and McInerney says that is essential.
He said, “If Clare want to make progress then they have to get out of Division 4, they have to get up to Division 3, maybe Division 2. It is important to be playing a higher level of league football.
“Micko knows a lot about Division 4. Getting promotion has to be the priority.
“People see the Clare club teams doing well in the Munster club championship, the players are there, they train as hard as anyone else and maybe Micko can just bring that something extra.
“You look at what is needed and if it takes something different, so be it.”
Clare county board chairman Michael O’Neill believes O’Dwyer can make a major contribution to football in the county.
O’Neill said, “I’m confident that the appointment will be good, not just for the county’s senior team but for football in the entire county.”
Sean Og Calls it Quits
TRIBUTES have poured in after Cork hurling legend Sean Og O hAilpin announced his retirement from the county game for the second – and final – time.
The former All-Ireland winning captain confirmed his decision over the weekend after 16 years in the red jersey over two spells as an inter-county star.
In a statement released via the GPA, O hAilpin said, “I wish to announce my retirement from inter-county hurling. This time it’s for good.
“I always felt it was premature to end my career in 2010. It was great to get the opportunity this year to re-establish myself in the team and contribute in a meaningful way to Cork.
“As I close this chapter of my life, I look forward with enthusiasm to the new challenges and opportunities I may encounter.
“I would like to thank all the players I played with over my 16 year career. I have always taken immense pride in wearing the Cork jersey and representing the county I love. I wish the Cork team the best of luck and success in their future endeavors.
“I’d like to extend a big thank you to my coaches, managers, medical and backroom teams and all the friends I’ve made throughout my hurling career on and off the field.
“I would like to thank all of the Cork and GAA supporters around the country for their phenomenal support over the years. Corcaigh abú. Rebels abú!”
AN emotional Mickey Harte paid tribute to the sell-out crowd at Saturday night’s tribute game for his late daughter Michaela.
The “Match for Michaela” event at Casement Park in Belfast was an outstanding success as over 14,000 fans raised money for the foundation set up in honor of Harte’s daughter, murdered on her honeymoon in Mauritius last year.
Harte told the full house, “It is most uplifting to see the energy in the crowd, how early they came and how excited they are to be here.
“It gives us a sense of hope and a sense of how something good can come out of something horrible.”
All-Ireland champions Donegal were beaten 2-12 to 1-12 by an Ulster selection manager by former
Armagh boss Joe Kernan, but Jim McGuiness was none too worried about the result.
The Donegal manager said, “It was truly privilege for everyone involved with the Donegal team to be part of this occasion.
“This game was always on the back of the players’ minds after the All-Ireland. It was a fixture that had to be competed.
“When Mickey Harte first asked me to support this event I had no hesitation in saying yes.”
Cluxton Stays, Quinn Out
DUBLIN goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton has pledged his future to the Blues under new boss Jim Gavin but veteran forward Tomas Quinn has announced his retirement.
Cluxton will play on for at least another year after ending speculation that he was poised to quit the Leinster champions.
Quinn however is to retire and tweeted, “It’s been a childhood dream to play for Dublin for last 10 years, but time to go. It was a great journey and I loved every second#ÁthCliathAbú.”
DOWN champions Kilcoo are through to the semifinals of the Ulster club championship after a deserved win over Monaghan side Ballybay on Sunday. Tyrone champions Errigal Ciaran are also in the semis after a late Tommy Canavan free earned them a win over Ballinderry . . .
GALWAY hurling goalkeeper James Skehill won’t play until next summer at the earliest after surgery on the shoulder injury that derailed his performance in the All-Ireland final replay against Kilkenny . . .
SHANE Nolan scored the crucial goal as Cork champions Castlehaven booked a semifinal place in the Munster SFC with a win against Dromcollogher-Broadford on Sunday . . .
WEXFORD hurling kingpins Oulart-The Ballagh had to survive a late rally from Kilmacud Crokes before winning the Leinster Club SHC quarterfinal on Sunday . . .
NEW Clare boss Mick O’Dwyer was in the crowd as Kerry side Dr. Crokes defeated Kilmurry-Ibrickane in the Munster club SFC quarterfinal . . .
CROKE Park officials are open to the idea of an Ulster representative side playing in the All-Ireland hurling championship . . .
RESPECTED coach Niall Moyna has joined the backroom team with the Down footballers under manager James McCartan . . .
ALL-Ireland winner Ryan McMenamin has brought the curtain down on his 13-year career with the Tyrone footballers . . .
VETERAN Offaly star Brendan Murphy has retired – 12 years after he played in the county’s last All-Ireland final . . .
FORMER Waterford star Paul Flynn is to work as a coach with the Down hurlers next season.