Paul Madden has been ratified as manager of the Éire Óg senior football team.
By Jamesy McConigley
After two years fighting to retain their status instead of competing for the Jack Daly, Madden will be hoping his charges will be back in the business end of the Clare SFC. “We’ve a lot of the more Senior players retiring in the last couple of years so Éire Óg for the past two years have been fighting relegation battles so I suppose statistics will prove that it’s probably the level were at in the minute, so for the year ahead I hope to get as many guys back involved as possible, hope the players will commit too, you know a fairly professional set-up and really it boils down to the players and there is no guarantee with anything but were going to have to go back to basics and put in hard work and hard graft.”
Speaking to The Clare Herald, the Ennis hotelier admitted that transferring success from underage ranks to the senior grade is not always easy. “There’s no question that a lot of these guys are very young, talented and they’ve achieved a lot in the under-age structures but obviously transforming that to senior is a challenge not just for Éire Óg but across the country, you can see that with inter-county teams, you could have as much under-age success as you like but it’s going to be very difficult to senior”.
Madden is joined by Alan Malone, Stephen McNamara, Tom Russell and Cathal Shannon in his management team, with the quartet soon to be ratified by the club executive. They’ll be planning to add a new lease of life to the team that suffered league relegation in 2016.
“We’re a dual club, so there are challenges in that front as well because we want to be competitive in both hurling and football, we had a good year with the hurlers last year, so really the aim for 2017 is to be competitive throughout the league. We’re in Division two of the league, relegated from Cusack cup to the Garry Cup so we’re going to be competitive in every league game and that’s not going to suggest we’re going to win every league game and come the summer we want to continue that form into championship.”
A selector under James Hanrahan when the Townies last competed in the Clare SFC final two years ago, Paul says they must perform regardless of structures. “What will happen is that the eight teams that get to the quarter-final stage in 2017 will be seeded for the draw in 2018, hypothetically if the eight strongest teams get to the quarter-final then potentially they would avoid each other in round one in 2018 when the proposal is that five teams will be relegated. At the end of the day you’ve got to perform regardless of what the structure is or you could end up in the wrong end of the draw which we have for the last two years and that will be the challenge to make sure we’re not there”.
PRO of the Ennis club, Joe Ó Muircheartaigh believes retaining players is having an impact on Éire Óg and it’s something he feels effects urban clubs all over the country. “There’s enough players and enough people that go through underage up the ranks and then on to U21 and the big thing is to try keep those players playing and if you keep the majority of those you’d field more than two teams be it in football or hurling there would be no problem and there would be a much bigger club there as a result, that’s where the club falls down because it hasn’t been the case and players are lost”.
A selector with the senior side last season, Ó Muircheartaigh said of their campaign last season. “At the end of the day they managed to secure senior status while that’s not where Éire Óg should be, that was a victory in itself at the end of the year”.
He also points to the fact that there was only one adult football team in the club this year in comparison to the three that lined out in 2015. “The reason why there was no second team is because a management team wasn’t put in place, nothing to do with membership. That wasn’t the reason why a second team wasn’t put in place, the reason they didn’t field in the league and the championship is because the fact that a management wasn’t put in place, it had nothing to do with membership. The membership thing only kicked in before the championship but the league started in March”.
Éire Óg reached the U21 county football final this year, The Clare People Sports Editor is confident these players can make the stepup to senior and mentions the trio of Dara Walsh, James Woods and Eimhin Courtney who lined out in the 2014 senior final as examples.
“There is a gap there but it can definitely be bridged, I don’t think that’s a problem, it might be more physical at senior but if the quality is there at U21 and minor level which it has been, there’s no reason with a bit of acclimatisation why it can’t come through to senior”.