Clare Forum

Clare Hurlers 2020

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Replying To updwell:  "If the abuse is criticism of the Fitz's and their GAA related decisions then that's par for the course but if it goes beyond that and the Gardai are involved then they are the victims no matter what you say."
supporters are no different to others. Our wins are never as good as we might make them out to be and the losses are rarely as bad. This week though, as we're flailing through another post-mortem, there was something a little more demoralising than usual about Sunday's loss to Limerick. We knew it was coming. There were very few 'you'd never knows' or 'anything can happen' floating around the place last week. And to twist the knife in even further, there's no decision from the side-line to blame, no team flop, and no 'if we only etc. etc. Depressingly - it is what it is and we are where we are. When that happens we look off the field for answers and, for most, the Clare County Board are getting both barrels.



They have often been derided for their inaction and lack of drive but in the off season last winter and before anyone at this side of the world had ever heard of the word 'Covid' they must surely have been the busiest and most hardworking County Board in the land. Ironically, as both of last year's Munster Finalists, Limerick and Tipperary just completed launching enormous public fundraising events to aid their assaults for 'retaining' honours in the coming year, sharp on their coat-tails, Coiste an Chláir had been beavering away frantically in the background resulting in, as well researched, insightful and impassioned presentations as they ever gave at the new year's first two convened meetings ……. about some fella's Facebook page.



It should be added that the same two meetings were for the long delayed, little matter of finally ratifying managements for the county teams for the coming season.



Let me be clear, personal insults and slander for people, most of whom are voluntarily giving swathes of their time in an attempt to do their best for their county is shameful and is wrong. It's questionable whether the social media account the top table publicly targeted, 'Clare, Clare, Clare' (and the many pseudonyms since) was worth the attention at the time though. Hindsight has clarified it. This was the very same person remember that used video footage to wrongly accuse an innocent Limerick hurler of drug taking. The same player was shamefully and needlessly compelled to complete and publicly highlight the results of a drugs test in order to clear their name. Surely that's when the sneering should have been a matter for the police. But the Clare County Board had it covered.



Apart from that, 'Clare, Clare, Clare's' posts meandered in-between being, infantile, desperately cringeworthy and actually, at times admirable, in that someone with such an intellect can operate a social media account in the first place. To call him… (and I'm presuming anyone that threatens to pull out a shotgun to anyone who tried to find out their identity in the aftermath of the aforementioned footage is a 'him' …a 'half-wit' may be being half a wit too generous. Why a County Board, with more pressing worries than most, harnessed hitherto unseen effort and time chasing down a lunatic is anyone's guess. Whatever their motive and whether they were right or wrong to do it, they were all fiddling while Rome burned.



There was the promise of a silver lining however. Surely in the County Board's crusade to rid cyberspace of this 'faceless keyboard warrior' they will have scrolled upon the vastly more numerous and plausible criticisms of their actions (or inactions). These were not from buffoons hiding behind false usernames. They were from former and present players and management. People heavily involved in the grassroots of hurling within our county who don't regard their identity as what's really important in calling a spade a spade. The county's fair haired boy, Anthony Daly, even went as far as to print in a national broadsheet that he wouldn't consider managing Clare while some personalities on the board were in situ. Why didn't the passioned speeches from the board reference these concerns early in the year instead of chasing after a clown? There is no-one so blind as those who are not willing to see.



Deep down the Clare County Board know full well that founded criticism is not the same as online abuse but blurring the lines between the two helps to lump the good with the bad. Officialdom in Clare should have realised they had bigger fish to fry than 'Clare, Clare, Clare'. Was the question ever entertained on the top table - why are we so easily the target here? Maybe they're unlucky. Maybe Clare as a county is a natural phenomenon that has more online abusers per capita than any other G.A.A fraternity? There could be something in the water.



Or maybe…just maybe…people feel things actually aren't being run in a fashion that best favours Clare G.A.A's potential are finally demanding accountability for such. In fact scrap accountability for a minute. Despite what officials may think, the genuine fan has no appetite to see heads roll or a door slam behind anyone. Nobody owns the jersey. Any supporter with the progress of Clare hurling at heart is surely entitled to question things when their teams don't seem as competitive as they should be but a continual paranoia has seen our county board become too fixated with a siege against that opinion from all quarters. That distrust, from both sides, is at fault for most of what's wrong with Clare G.A.A. The American humourist Evan Esar said 'In a democracy you believe it or not'; in a dictatorship, you believe it or else. Whether true or not there is a widespread and genuine fear in Clare that anyone that sticks their neck out to criticize those in charge run the risk of having their club punished, be it with a referee, venue or decision.



The same genuine Clare supporters, the ones who count, know that Pat Fitzgerald is not a lazy man. Kieran Shannon was quite correct to note the same in an Irish Examiner article last Spring. It is an intensely pressured and thankless job and in a geographically broad, busy and one of few genuinely competitive duel counties, Fitzgerald has an encyclopaedic knowledge of how to run things. He has a vast years of experience and it's hard to think of anyone with as deep a knowledge of Croke Park's rulebook than him . It's quite easy for most people to donate money now and again ..what's not as easy to donate is time, and Pat Fitzgerald has given a lifetime of it.



Those hardworking attributes and cuteness were fit for a very different world however. If, as we're so often told, the demands of a county player have changed unrecognisably in even only the last ten years, well it goes without saying that it's changed too for those charged with their preparation. Whether they look or act like it , County Boards are massive commercial organisations. They are responsible for the two things people get very personal about - devotion and money - and in both cases - lots of it. In the modern game they have a bigger and vastly different role to that any of the current personnel inherited and the one they now spearhead is flagging. And flagging badly.



What they fail to realise is that, like in any business, opinion doesn't and shouldn't come into it. There is nothing personal against anyone on the board in an appraisal of it. So what are the factual yardsticks to judge a county's performances by? Finances, Facilities, Structures, and Performance.






Finances:



Most people acknowledge Clare lag far behind all other top tier hurling counties for resources. To be fair, small and well monitored expenditure from our County Board ensured we escaped the debt felt by many other counties in the recession but in the quasi-professional era standing still is the very same as going backwards. Last year on the back of reaching a Munster Final- beating Tipperary, Cork and Waterford on the way and then running eventual champions Galway to two points, the county's minor hurling manager requested modest extra resources to build on the preparations for the 2020 season. He was flatly told 'the money wasn't there' and withdrew his name from the position. The job was given to an equally committed and regarded management, presumably because they could achieve progress without the same constraints. Hats off to anyone if that works but what is more worrying is the notion that the first thoughts of the interviewing board wasn't 'how far can you bring us' but rather 'how much will you cost us'?



There are plenty of rumours of strength and conditioning coaches who had to await payment for their services in Clare. In the absence of anyone ever publicly saying so, that has to be treated as just speculation and is more likely another result of the hearsay that grows from division and lack of public confidence. What cannot be argued with, is that none of them seem to stay too long in the job in Clare - even on the back of success. People will have noted two Clare natives and a former trainer standing as part of John Kiely's coaching team last Sunday. The coaching world within the GAA is a reshuffling and small community. They talk…. and if we can hear the rumours, surely so can they. One would have to ask in what light is a position working with developing Clare teams seen as nowadays and how attractive is it for the best upcoming coaches willing to cut their teeth on the intercounty scene?



Some counties are certainly luckier than others with who they attract sponsorship from. We know this though - it matters and bears results. There is no shortage of very wealthy businesses and business owners in Clare. Many of them are die-hard supporters of Clare hurling. But if you can't see or trust a tangible reward for your money, would you give it over?



To name a few, Limerick, Tipperary, Wexford and Dublin have all seen the worth and benefitted from generous and committed sponsorships. What would be really interesting to see though is whether their other streams of sponsorship improved as a result of them? Everyone wants to be associated with a winner and people doing the right thing. The marketing world calls it 'good brand equity'. Right now, Clare's is on the floor. It's hard to see anybody wanting their money to be associated with it.



Facilities:



For decades, Cusack Park had notoriously been one of the country's most neglected stadiums. The back door and more recently the new Munster Championship format brought home games back to the intimate venue famously described by a Kilkenny selector as 'a kip' in the aftermath of a 2014 league mud bath. Drainage work on the pitch since has been a great success. The surface can rival most in the country. A 1.5 million euro facelift to the stand in 2015 brought what can only be described as a trifling upgrade and whether by design or not certainly didn't change anything about the 'welcome to hell' feel for visitors to 'the park'. In addition we still remain the only Munster county without a floodlit ground for our county teams.



But when facilities are mentioned one word more often springs to mind, and it has quickly become the butt of a joke - 'Caherlohan'. Billed and proposed as a centre of excellence for our intercounty teams - it has been anything but. The facility cost 4.8 million euros to construct as far as what exists there today. Think about that for a minute - 4.8 million euro - and think what your local club volunteers would turn out for the same price. The pitches at Caherlohan are unplayable and unusable for half the year. Because of this, a further drain of finances has regularly been accrued through the rent of University of Limerick's pitches for county sides throughout the winter. One of the merits for the purchase of the site on the Tulla to Ennis road was its centrality for players. Now instead, an underage player from North Clare has an added thirty kilometres to travel to training in a different county.



In 2018, deluded with promises and delays, a group of senior football and hurling panel members took it upon themselves to fit out a gym at the facility. Even down to the see-sawing goal posts, Caherlohan has been an embarrassing monument of waste and one bad decision after another.







Structures:



It can be argued for the most part that Senior competition structures within the county are on a par with most. The board can again be spared some thought on a difficult job as they have two competitive codes that need to be balanced with a host of dual players to be catered for. It's unlikely that any change to the club senior championship would improve the flagship team. Like a lot of this week's opinion on the conditioning of Brian Lohan's senior squad - it's probably too late for dramatic improvement. Change has to happen earlier.



The most impoverished and poorly performing intercounty grade for recent Clare teams has been at U20 level. This year we completed no club championship at that level in the county. Covid can probably take the hit for the Board on this one but across the Shannon, Limerick completed four divisions at the grade with far more clubs …and wait for it… on a round robin basis whereby each hurler was guaranteed three games. This year may have been out of the committee's control, but in general, Clare treat this championship as the nuisance child. Get it done and dusted and out of the way. The team that fell gamely to Tipperary in this year's Munster Championship had five starters who didn't start with their club senior sides earlier in the summer. If it was not for St. Flannan's Harty success, for a lot of the side and their development, the year was largely a waste. Just as it was at minor when the grade shifted from U18 to U17. Remember, this is the level we've been struggling most with at intercounty level and probably the most important launching pad onto the County Senior Panel.



Using Limerick again as an example, the same happens at Junior level. This year Limerick scrapped their long tradition of divisional championships and allowed 24 teams at least five group games . Each intermediate side in Limerick plays a minimum of seven games. Club hurlers and competitions are not held ransom to the fortunes of intercounty teams which are faring far better than Clare's. They have become a County board who embrace 'more' games for the development of their club and county players even with the backdrop of Covid. Clare's solution was to play less. Consequently the club player in Limerick can use his championship as a genuine shop window to make a county panel and John Kiely has called up players on the back of it. An obvious by-product of it is a higher standard of championship - one which looked light years ahead of the Clare equivalent in its latter stages. You would also really have to wonder what form qualifies a Clare panel member his place?




Take 'Johnny' - a decent, but yet developing, twenty year old hurler with the option of either hurling in the Clare or Limerick championships with either Sixmilebridge or Ahane. 'Johnny' is still eligible for U21 but also good enough to just break onto his club senior team too. In both clubs he would have played six championship games this season. That's not bad for a season's hurling but here's the difference - Ahane qualified from neither their Senior or U21group in 2020. Sixmilebridge were crowned senior champions and went on the longest run of fixtures available to any side in their county. If Johnny was slightly further behind in his development and couldn't break through to his club senior team , the Clare 'choice' was even worse. He would have played three championship ties with Ahane and one with 'the Bridge.





It will be a while yet before we can comment on the success of the underage 'academy' set up in Clare. There has to be more to it than a name. How many readers here know what and who is involved? The under fourteen county sides did not participate in last year's Tony Forrestal All Ireland tournament. Upward on eighty young hurlers train as part of the grade's panel and management chose the option of keeping the group training together as oppose to selecting panels. A very altruistic policy and hopefully one that will be proved right - but as such we have no measure of the academy's success against any others and whether or not underage coaching has simply gone wider in the county instead of deeper.






Performance:



There's no room for subjectivity here. Facts are facts. The Clare Minor hurling team hasn't won a Munster Hurling Championship since Tony Kelly captained them in Pairc Ui Caoimh in 2011. We have been somewhat competitive with the new format and have fallen short in two finals since but nowhere near as much as Tipperary (4), Limerick (3) and Cork (1) who have all managed to go the distance. If you're noting the absence of Waterford in that list, and are comforted by it, -you're part of the problem.



The Munster U20 Hurling Championship only came into being in 2019 so for argument sake we'll include how we've fared at U21 level. Following the halcyon days of Clare's three in a row provincial and All Ireland titles from 2012 to 2014 our form has nosedived. Since our narrow defeat to Limerick in 2015's Munster Final in Ennis we are the only county in the province who have failed to win a single game in the competition. That particular evening could well hold some hint into our downfall. Much of the Limerick line up and bench from that night form the side favourites for this years All Ireland. In a game they could easily have won, very little of the Clare panel have kicked on in any way close to their neighbours. Certainly too many to pin on a co-incidence.



And that leads us back full circle to our seniors. It's actually not all doom and gloom. If the two years of the new format were condensed into a league table - we're on top! And for you quiz buffs, we're the only Munster county as of yet to have beaten all the others ! But we're grasping at straws - we have no silverware and on the evidence of last Sunday the general consensus is, we are spared a bit of embarrassment that this year is run on a knockout basis.



Fortunately, we are still a very proud county. No player puts on a Clare jersey to do anything but his best and it was no different last weekend. It's foolish to subscribe to Ger Loughnane's cheap-shot from his tabloid that we are hurtling towards the Joe McDonagh championship. Loughnane comes across as no better than any mouthpiece who is all too quick and willing to point out who's wrong and incompetent both on and off the field (often in an insulting manner) but he is not nearly as quick to point out considered solutions. That wouldn't sell papers. Even if he was right, there are obstacles bigger and sooner than when the Joe McDonagh is staring at us. The pride and distinction of playing for Clare is our best asset… but it isn't infinite. A few years of paltry performances quickly takes the lustre off it and other options present themselves to our players. The Clare footballers had been there for years. When apathy sets in, it's a very hard road to travel back from.



But Loughnane was once right about one thing - 'mushrooms'. If there's anything more depressing than the state we're in it's the unending annual compulsion to go around in circles talking about it. We've all been here before. For all the ills of the county board they are only as strong as the room that sits in-front of them. A lot of the same delegates that are sitting through this low point for our county have been sitting through it for a while and will sit through it again next year just as ignorant of a mandate from his club as they always were. Fear of recrimination gags some of them, more are there for the dinner and would hardly know what progression looks like never mind having a plan to achieve it. But remember, they were sent there and as a collective unit the more our clubs give out about matters privately, the more they are failing. Now and again a mini rebellion might surface but inevitably they have come and gone. Until a fully united room of Clare's clubs unequivocally demand a new plan and way of doing things for the betterment of Clare hurling from this or a new board we have to assume they're all happy with how things are currently running. There is no such thing as an innocent bystander.



A betting man would place a few bob on someone comically calling for yet another 'review'. The dogs on the street know what has been happening - what's more important now is what will happen. Clare has a playing population of 9,100 registered GAA players at all ages. This is two thirds of both Limerick and Tipperary's pick. It is just above a quarter of Cork's playing numbers. Even within that number, as a county it has a very distinct and traditional geographical line splitting the two codes which until recently saw little crossover. We also have to contend with rural depopulation more than those same competitors. These are not excuses. If they were there'd be very little point in investment or progression. They are an acknowledgement that we are not beginning from the same start line as our hurling competitors. More is the need therefore for a commercially minded, well-resourced and progressive board to give us every chance of reaching our potential. Other counties with small numbers prove it can be done. Until we do, the gap between the haves and have nots will grow and there'll be no waiting for anyone to catch up. Before it's too late we can chose which side we'll be on. You reap only what you sow.

Dec82 (Clare) - Posts: 242 - 10/01/2021 01:54:47    2326849

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Replying To updwell:  "If the abuse is criticism of the Fitz's and their GAA related decisions then that's par for the course but if it goes beyond that and the Gardai are involved then they are the victims no matter what you say."
Loyalty tends to distort things and Clare supporters. Thats the 1st line, I couldn't get it in.

I stole that from another forum, that's the state of Clare hurling. Better than I could ever explain it and its factually correct. It's a complex issue and 5 minutes on the Late Late Show won't explain it.

Dec82 (Clare) - Posts: 242 - 10/01/2021 02:00:57    2326850

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Replying To preddan:  "Hope whoever the online trolls are proud of themselves for the abuse and making the lives of the Fitzgerald family a living hell for years now. I was always a Clare hurling supporter but what ive heard and seen the last five or six years or so is just sickening whats going on behind the scenes.
At the end of the day davy led clare in 2013 to an unlikely all Ireland and ive never seen much of a response or respect or thanks from clare people for that, just blame when the wheels began coming off the cart in the years after. And what his elderly father has had to put up with is a different story altogether. Social media is pure wicked at times to what it does to people and those who done it should be held accountable."
I dont know what the online abuse is about but can't tar all 100% of Supporters with the 1% who take to the computer/tablet/phone to write disparaging messages.

I think that the proper forum is to get yourself elected as the Club delegate and have your say at each monthly county board meeting.
You would have to say that as a County in hurling especially that we have gone backwards hugely since our last All Ireland in 2013 Our under age Teams at County are poor enough we appear miles behind in development S&C Facilities academies ect

So many of our players want to go travelling wont sit on the bench dont see it in Limerick Kilkenny ect something wrong there.

There were rumours that the County Hurling Team were badly served by the Board this year having to scouse Fields for training outside of Cusack Park & Caherlohan .
One man the County Secretary cant be responsible for or solve all problems but he is a paid officer and has a staff in Clareabbey so I think that he has to accept his share of complaints because of this, we all in the course of your work have to perform.

I don't have any complaints with DAVY I got tired of his sweeper boring hurling but he did get us an All I & League he is a very passionate & charismatic person at times and has brought varying degrees of Success to Waterford & Wexford i don't approve of his methods like sweeper or sometimes his antics on the line but he is one of the good guys.

clooney (Clare) - Posts: 607 - 11/01/2021 13:14:59    2326978

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There is a tiny tiny minority of people who engage in this type of abuse and they need to be called out. Nobody deserves it.

However, the genuine concerns of Clare GAA people about how the games are been run in the county is being lost in all this noise. Look at the large number of Clare hurling people employed with other counties because they are shut out of the running of the games in their home county. Its maddening and also very sad!

I am a loyal Clare hurling fan going back to the late 1980s. I going to 99% of games. I could count on 1 hand the amount of times I've heard people throw personal abuse at coaches, either Clare coaches or opposition. I think genuine Clare fans are being tarnished and I think the stunt last Friday on tv to whip up this is something I will never forgive. Some of the worst abuse I have ever heard came from a certain Clare manager to his waterford counterpart dueing the 2016 League Final. Maybe that needs to be called out.

Has anyone ever asked David O Halloran or Nicky O Connell about personal abuse, bullying and poor treatment? The rift that started in Clare goes back to that disgraceful episode in 2015 which ended the careers pretty much of good hurlers and decent lads.

I laugh when Limerick posters say we lucky to have Fitz yet when he is linked with them they go mad.

I am actually fed up of all this bull.

The true supporters know what is going on.

Up The Banner. Larger than any individual or another.

Clareman (Clare) - Posts: 1039 - 14/01/2021 11:26:00    2327367

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Replying To Dec82:  "supporters are no different to others. Our wins are never as good as we might make them out to be and the losses are rarely as bad. This week though, as we're flailing through another post-mortem, there was something a little more demoralising than usual about Sunday's loss to Limerick. We knew it was coming. There were very few 'you'd never knows' or 'anything can happen' floating around the place last week. And to twist the knife in even further, there's no decision from the side-line to blame, no team flop, and no 'if we only etc. etc. Depressingly - it is what it is and we are where we are. When that happens we look off the field for answers and, for most, the Clare County Board are getting both barrels.



They have often been derided for their inaction and lack of drive but in the off season last winter and before anyone at this side of the world had ever heard of the word 'Covid' they must surely have been the busiest and most hardworking County Board in the land. Ironically, as both of last year's Munster Finalists, Limerick and Tipperary just completed launching enormous public fundraising events to aid their assaults for 'retaining' honours in the coming year, sharp on their coat-tails, Coiste an Chláir had been beavering away frantically in the background resulting in, as well researched, insightful and impassioned presentations as they ever gave at the new year's first two convened meetings ……. about some fella's Facebook page.



It should be added that the same two meetings were for the long delayed, little matter of finally ratifying managements for the county teams for the coming season.



Let me be clear, personal insults and slander for people, most of whom are voluntarily giving swathes of their time in an attempt to do their best for their county is shameful and is wrong. It's questionable whether the social media account the top table publicly targeted, 'Clare, Clare, Clare' (and the many pseudonyms since) was worth the attention at the time though. Hindsight has clarified it. This was the very same person remember that used video footage to wrongly accuse an innocent Limerick hurler of drug taking. The same player was shamefully and needlessly compelled to complete and publicly highlight the results of a drugs test in order to clear their name. Surely that's when the sneering should have been a matter for the police. But the Clare County Board had it covered.



Apart from that, 'Clare, Clare, Clare's' posts meandered in-between being, infantile, desperately cringeworthy and actually, at times admirable, in that someone with such an intellect can operate a social media account in the first place. To call him… (and I'm presuming anyone that threatens to pull out a shotgun to anyone who tried to find out their identity in the aftermath of the aforementioned footage is a 'him' …a 'half-wit' may be being half a wit too generous. Why a County Board, with more pressing worries than most, harnessed hitherto unseen effort and time chasing down a lunatic is anyone's guess. Whatever their motive and whether they were right or wrong to do it, they were all fiddling while Rome burned.



There was the promise of a silver lining however. Surely in the County Board's crusade to rid cyberspace of this 'faceless keyboard warrior' they will have scrolled upon the vastly more numerous and plausible criticisms of their actions (or inactions). These were not from buffoons hiding behind false usernames. They were from former and present players and management. People heavily involved in the grassroots of hurling within our county who don't regard their identity as what's really important in calling a spade a spade. The county's fair haired boy, Anthony Daly, even went as far as to print in a national broadsheet that he wouldn't consider managing Clare while some personalities on the board were in situ. Why didn't the passioned speeches from the board reference these concerns early in the year instead of chasing after a clown? There is no-one so blind as those who are not willing to see.



Deep down the Clare County Board know full well that founded criticism is not the same as online abuse but blurring the lines between the two helps to lump the good with the bad. Officialdom in Clare should have realised they had bigger fish to fry than 'Clare, Clare, Clare'. Was the question ever entertained on the top table - why are we so easily the target here? Maybe they're unlucky. Maybe Clare as a county is a natural phenomenon that has more online abusers per capita than any other G.A.A fraternity? There could be something in the water.



Or maybe…just maybe…people feel things actually aren't being run in a fashion that best favours Clare G.A.A's potential are finally demanding accountability for such. In fact scrap accountability for a minute. Despite what officials may think, the genuine fan has no appetite to see heads roll or a door slam behind anyone. Nobody owns the jersey. Any supporter with the progress of Clare hurling at heart is surely entitled to question things when their teams don't seem as competitive as they should be but a continual paranoia has seen our county board become too fixated with a siege against that opinion from all quarters. That distrust, from both sides, is at fault for most of what's wrong with Clare G.A.A. The American humourist Evan Esar said 'In a democracy you believe it or not'; in a dictatorship, you believe it or else. Whether true or not there is a widespread and genuine fear in Clare that anyone that sticks their neck out to criticize those in charge run the risk of having their club punished, be it with a referee, venue or decision.



The same genuine Clare supporters, the ones who count, know that Pat Fitzgerald is not a lazy man. Kieran Shannon was quite correct to note the same in an Irish Examiner article last Spring. It is an intensely pressured and thankless job and in a geographically broad, busy and one of few genuinely competitive duel counties, Fitzgerald has an encyclopaedic knowledge of how to run things. He has a vast years of experience and it's hard to think of anyone with as deep a knowledge of Croke Park's rulebook than him . It's quite easy for most people to donate money now and again ..what's not as easy to donate is time, and Pat Fitzgerald has given a lifetime of it.



Those hardworking attributes and cuteness were fit for a very different world however. If, as we're so often told, the demands of a county player have changed unrecognisably in even only the last ten years, well it goes without saying that it's changed too for those charged with their preparation. Whether they look or act like it , County Boards are massive commercial organisations. They are responsible for the two things people get very personal about - devotion and money - and in both cases - lots of it. In the modern game they have a bigger and vastly different role to that any of the current personnel inherited and the one they now spearhead is flagging. And flagging badly.



What they fail to realise is that, like in any business, opinion doesn't and shouldn't come into it. There is nothing personal against anyone on the board in an appraisal of it. So what are the factual yardsticks to judge a county's performances by? Finances, Facilities, Structures, and Performance.






Finances:



Most people acknowledge Clare lag far behind all other top tier hurling counties for resources. To be fair, small and well monitored expenditure from our County Board ensured we escaped the debt felt by many other counties in the recession but in the quasi-professional era standing still is the very same as going backwards. Last year on the back of reaching a Munster Final- beating Tipperary, Cork and Waterford on the way and then running eventual champions Galway to two points, the county's minor hurling manager requested modest extra resources to build on the preparations for the 2020 season. He was flatly told 'the money wasn't there' and withdrew his name from the position. The job was given to an equally committed and regarded management, presumably because they could achieve progress without the same constraints. Hats off to anyone if that works but what is more worrying is the notion that the first thoughts of the interviewing board wasn't 'how far can you bring us' but rather 'how much will you cost us'?



There are plenty of rumours of strength and conditioning coaches who had to await payment for their services in Clare. In the absence of anyone ever publicly saying so, that has to be treated as just speculation and is more likely another result of the hearsay that grows from division and lack of public confidence. What cannot be argued with, is that none of them seem to stay too long in the job in Clare - even on the back of success. People will have noted two Clare natives and a former trainer standing as part of John Kiely's coaching team last Sunday. The coaching world within the GAA is a reshuffling and small community. They talk…. and if we can hear the rumours, surely so can they. One would have to ask in what light is a position working with developing Clare teams seen as nowadays and how attractive is it for the best upcoming coaches willing to cut their teeth on the intercounty scene?



Some counties are certainly luckier than others with who they attract sponsorship from. We know this though - it matters and bears results. There is no shortage of very wealthy businesses and business owners in Clare. Many of them are die-hard supporters of Clare hurling. But if you can't see or trust a tangible reward for your money, would you give it over?



To name a few, Limerick, Tipperary, Wexford and Dublin have all seen the worth and benefitted from generous and committed sponsorships. What would be really interesting to see though is whether their other streams of sponsorship improved as a result of them? Everyone wants to be associated with a winner and people doing the right thing. The marketing world calls it 'good brand equity'. Right now, Clare's is on the floor. It's hard to see anybody wanting their money to be associated with it.



Facilities:



For decades, Cusack Park had notoriously been one of the country's most neglected stadiums. The back door and more recently the new Munster Championship format brought home games back to the intimate venue famously described by a Kilkenny selector as 'a kip' in the aftermath of a 2014 league mud bath. Drainage work on the pitch since has been a great success. The surface can rival most in the country. A 1.5 million euro facelift to the stand in 2015 brought what can only be described as a trifling upgrade and whether by design or not certainly didn't change anything about the 'welcome to hell' feel for visitors to 'the park'. In addition we still remain the only Munster county without a floodlit ground for our county teams.



But when facilities are mentioned one word more often springs to mind, and it has quickly become the butt of a joke - 'Caherlohan'. Billed and proposed as a centre of excellence for our intercounty teams - it has been anything but. The facility cost 4.8 million euros to construct as far as what exists there today. Think about that for a minute - 4.8 million euro - and think what your local club volunteers would turn out for the same price. The pitches at Caherlohan are unplayable and unusable for half the year. Because of this, a further drain of finances has regularly been accrued through the rent of University of Limerick's pitches for county sides throughout the winter. One of the merits for the purchase of the site on the Tulla to Ennis road was its centrality for players. Now instead, an underage player from North Clare has an added thirty kilometres to travel to training in a different county.



In 2018, deluded with promises and delays, a group of senior football and hurling panel members took it upon themselves to fit out a gym at the facility. Even down to the see-sawing goal posts, Caherlohan has been an embarrassing monument of waste and one bad decision after another.







Structures:



It can be argued for the most part that Senior competition structures within the county are on a par with most. The board can again be spared some thought on a difficult job as they have two competitive codes that need to be balanced with a host of dual players to be catered for. It's unlikely that any change to the club senior championship would improve the flagship team. Like a lot of this week's opinion on the conditioning of Brian Lohan's senior squad - it's probably too late for dramatic improvement. Change has to happen earlier.



The most impoverished and poorly performing intercounty grade for recent Clare teams has been at U20 level. This year we completed no club championship at that level in the county. Covid can probably take the hit for the Board on this one but across the Shannon, Limerick completed four divisions at the grade with far more clubs …and wait for it… on a round robin basis whereby each hurler was guaranteed three games. This year may have been out of the committee's control, but in general, Clare treat this championship as the nuisance child. Get it done and dusted and out of the way. The team that fell gamely to Tipperary in this year's Munster Championship had five starters who didn't start with their club senior sides earlier in the summer. If it was not for St. Flannan's Harty success, for a lot of the side and their development, the year was largely a waste. Just as it was at minor when the grade shifted from U18 to U17. Remember, this is the level we've been struggling most with at intercounty level and probably the most important launching pad onto the County Senior Panel.



Using Limerick again as an example, the same happens at Junior level. This year Limerick scrapped their long tradition of divisional championships and allowed 24 teams at least five group games . Each intermediate side in Limerick plays a minimum of seven games. Club hurlers and competitions are not held ransom to the fortunes of intercounty teams which are faring far better than Clare's. They have become a County board who embrace 'more' games for the development of their club and county players even with the backdrop of Covid. Clare's solution was to play less. Consequently the club player in Limerick can use his championship as a genuine shop window to make a county panel and John Kiely has called up players on the back of it. An obvious by-product of it is a higher standard of championship - one which looked light years ahead of the Clare equivalent in its latter stages. You would also really have to wonder what form qualifies a Clare panel member his place?




Take 'Johnny' - a decent, but yet developing, twenty year old hurler with the option of either hurling in the Clare or Limerick championships with either Sixmilebridge or Ahane. 'Johnny' is still eligible for U21 but also good enough to just break onto his club senior team too. In both clubs he would have played six championship games this season. That's not bad for a season's hurling but here's the difference - Ahane qualified from neither their Senior or U21group in 2020. Sixmilebridge were crowned senior champions and went on the longest run of fixtures available to any side in their county. If Johnny was slightly further behind in his development and couldn't break through to his club senior team , the Clare 'choice' was even worse. He would have played three championship ties with Ahane and one with 'the Bridge.





It will be a while yet before we can comment on the success of the underage 'academy' set up in Clare. There has to be more to it than a name. How many readers here know what and who is involved? The under fourteen county sides did not participate in last year's Tony Forrestal All Ireland tournament. Upward on eighty young hurlers train as part of the grade's panel and management chose the option of keeping the group training together as oppose to selecting panels. A very altruistic policy and hopefully one that will be proved right - but as such we have no measure of the academy's success against any others and whether or not underage coaching has simply gone wider in the county instead of deeper.






Performance:



There's no room for subjectivity here. Facts are facts. The Clare Minor hurling team hasn't won a Munster Hurling Championship since Tony Kelly captained them in Pairc Ui Caoimh in 2011. We have been somewhat competitive with the new format and have fallen short in two finals since but nowhere near as much as Tipperary (4), Limerick (3) and Cork (1) who have all managed to go the distance. If you're noting the absence of Waterford in that list, and are comforted by it, -you're part of the problem.



The Munster U20 Hurling Championship only came into being in 2019 so for argument sake we'll include how we've fared at U21 level. Following the halcyon days of Clare's three in a row provincial and All Ireland titles from 2012 to 2014 our form has nosedived. Since our narrow defeat to Limerick in 2015's Munster Final in Ennis we are the only county in the province who have failed to win a single game in the competition. That particular evening could well hold some hint into our downfall. Much of the Limerick line up and bench from that night form the side favourites for this years All Ireland. In a game they could easily have won, very little of the Clare panel have kicked on in any way close to their neighbours. Certainly too many to pin on a co-incidence.



And that leads us back full circle to our seniors. It's actually not all doom and gloom. If the two years of the new format were condensed into a league table - we're on top! And for you quiz buffs, we're the only Munster county as of yet to have beaten all the others ! But we're grasping at straws - we have no silverware and on the evidence of last Sunday the general consensus is, we are spared a bit of embarrassment that this year is run on a knockout basis.



Fortunately, we are still a very proud county. No player puts on a Clare jersey to do anything but his best and it was no different last weekend. It's foolish to subscribe to Ger Loughnane's cheap-shot from his tabloid that we are hurtling towards the Joe McDonagh championship. Loughnane comes across as no better than any mouthpiece who is all too quick and willing to point out who's wrong and incompetent both on and off the field (often in an insulting manner) but he is not nearly as quick to point out considered solutions. That wouldn't sell papers. Even if he was right, there are obstacles bigger and sooner than when the Joe McDonagh is staring at us. The pride and distinction of playing for Clare is our best asset… but it isn't infinite. A few years of paltry performances quickly takes the lustre off it and other options present themselves to our players. The Clare footballers had been there for years. When apathy sets in, it's a very hard road to travel back from.



But Loughnane was once right about one thing - 'mushrooms'. If there's anything more depressing than the state we're in it's the unending annual compulsion to go around in circles talking about it. We've all been here before. For all the ills of the county board they are only as strong as the room that sits in-front of them. A lot of the same delegates that are sitting through this low point for our county have been sitting through it for a while and will sit through it again next year just as ignorant of a mandate from his club as they always were. Fear of recrimination gags some of them, more are there for the dinner and would hardly know what progression looks like never mind having a plan to achieve it. But remember, they were sent there and as a collective unit the more our clubs give out about matters privately, the more they are failing. Now and again a mini rebellion might surface but inevitably they have come and gone. Until a fully united room of Clare's clubs unequivocally demand a new plan and way of doing things for the betterment of Clare hurling from this or a new board we have to assume they're all happy with how things are currently running. There is no such thing as an innocent bystander.



A betting man would place a few bob on someone comically calling for yet another 'review'. The dogs on the street know what has been happening - what's more important now is what will happen. Clare has a playing population of 9,100 registered GAA players at all ages. This is two thirds of both Limerick and Tipperary's pick. It is just above a quarter of Cork's playing numbers. Even within that number, as a county it has a very distinct and traditional geographical line splitting the two codes which until recently saw little crossover. We also have to contend with rural depopulation more than those same competitors. These are not excuses. If they were there'd be very little point in investment or progression. They are an acknowledgement that we are not beginning from the same start line as our hurling competitors. More is the need therefore for a commercially minded, well-resourced and progressive board to give us every chance of reaching our potential. Other counties with small numbers prove it can be done. Until we do, the gap between the haves and have nots will grow and there'll be no waiting for anyone to catch up. Before it's too late we can chose which side we'll be on. You reap only what you sow."
Excellent post. Well done.

Clareman (Clare) - Posts: 1039 - 14/01/2021 11:26:58    2327368

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Replying To Clareman:  "Excellent post. Well done."
I'd love to be able to write something that good, it was brilliantly put together but I stole it. The more people that read it, the better.

Dec82 (Clare) - Posts: 242 - 14/01/2021 13:12:49    2327384

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Replying To Clareman:  "There is a tiny tiny minority of people who engage in this type of abuse and they need to be called out. Nobody deserves it.

However, the genuine concerns of Clare GAA people about how the games are been run in the county is being lost in all this noise. Look at the large number of Clare hurling people employed with other counties because they are shut out of the running of the games in their home county. Its maddening and also very sad!

I am a loyal Clare hurling fan going back to the late 1980s. I going to 99% of games. I could count on 1 hand the amount of times I've heard people throw personal abuse at coaches, either Clare coaches or opposition. I think genuine Clare fans are being tarnished and I think the stunt last Friday on tv to whip up this is something I will never forgive. Some of the worst abuse I have ever heard came from a certain Clare manager to his waterford counterpart dueing the 2016 League Final. Maybe that needs to be called out.

Has anyone ever asked David O Halloran or Nicky O Connell about personal abuse, bullying and poor treatment? The rift that started in Clare goes back to that disgraceful episode in 2015 which ended the careers pretty much of good hurlers and decent lads.

I laugh when Limerick posters say we lucky to have Fitz yet when he is linked with them they go mad.

I am actually fed up of all this bull.

The true supporters know what is going on.

Up The Banner. Larger than any individual or another."


So Many good Clare coaches won titles in Limerick Tony Considine Garryspillane & Kilmallock Sean Stack & Alan Cunningham in Na Piarsiagh Sparrow in Adare & Kilmallock.

Current Limerick Management has Paul Kinnerk { we had him Alan Cunningham & Aoghus O Brien}

Makes you wonder all right how they could not have been used in Clare.

clooney (Clare) - Posts: 607 - 14/01/2021 17:03:58    2327430

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Replying To Dec82:  "I'd love to be able to write something that good, it was brilliantly put together but I stole it. The more people that read it, the better."
I wander over here every now and again because I enjoy these threads.
ye have a good forum with some very knowledge posters.

Have to say though that was probably the best post I've ever read on any forum.
whoever wrote it is a serious analyst and reader of the state of play in Clare.
Found it a lot to take in so I read it twice, seemed to take forever... Can't imagine how long it took him/her to write it! Excellent stuff.

skillet (Limerick) - Posts: 822 - 14/01/2021 23:56:37    2327500

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Replying To skillet:  "I wander over here every now and again because I enjoy these threads.
ye have a good forum with some very knowledge posters.

Have to say though that was probably the best post I've ever read on any forum.
whoever wrote it is a serious analyst and reader of the state of play in Clare.
Found it a lot to take in so I read it twice, seemed to take forever... Can't imagine how long it took him/her to write it! Excellent stuff."
Ya very impressive, managed to do it without being biased or antagonistic.

Dec82 (Clare) - Posts: 242 - 15/01/2021 13:53:00    2327568

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Replying To clooney:  "

So Many good Clare coaches won titles in Limerick Tony Considine Garryspillane & Kilmallock Sean Stack & Alan Cunningham in Na Piarsiagh Sparrow in Adare & Kilmallock.

Current Limerick Management has Paul Kinnerk { we had him Alan Cunningham & Aoghus O Brien}

Makes you wonder all right how they could not have been used in Clare."
Well Kinnerk is a Limerick man and am I right in saying that Joe O'Connor and Seoirse Bulfin were also involved in Davy's back room team in '13- so I suppose it works both ways. BTW, you forget Anthony Daly was involved in the Limerick Academy.

Oldtourman (Limerick) - Posts: 2923 - 15/01/2021 19:56:20    2327638

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Congratulations to Tony Kelly on his All-Star. He's as good a hurler as ever I've seen, and I've been watching the game closely for nigh on 50 years.

foreveryoung (USA) - Posts: 403 - 22/02/2021 08:17:38    2332387

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Replying To foreveryoung:  "Congratulations to Tony Kelly on his All-Star. He's as good a hurler as ever I've seen, and I've been watching the game closely for nigh on 50 years."
Thank you he is brilliant, superb last year tried to carry team on his back his display V Limerick was truly amazing playing a team as good as hey are now and get 0.17 there was a small passage of play shown on the All Stars last Saturday night and TK is shooting for a point WOD CL & DOD from Limerick are also in the same frame and it almost appears that they are looking on in AWE of him.

Clare were missing some high profile players in 2020 but there a number of Clare players who should have offered a lot more help to TK in last years championship they have the Physique & Talent.

Limerick now the trail blazers but uneasy rests the crown

clooney (Clare) - Posts: 607 - 22/02/2021 10:29:14    2332401

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So a new year is finally upon us. I would say a welcome change from the off field issues. But those issues being displayed publicly to finally maybe bring a bit of accountability could be more important than anything that happens on field over the next few months.

Few things i would like to see nailed down for the league are first quilligan to remove any doubt that he should be our number 1. Continue with cleary at full back. Find a center back, which to my mind is our bigges on field issue - i would put colm galvin here. I think diarmuid ryan also must now be relocated to wing back. Then build on the positives from last year, especially the wexford game. It will be huge to have conlon back in there, the make up of the forward line will be interesting. I would like to see both conlon and shanagher in the full forward line but im not sure if this would be done. Also, it looks like peter duggan wont be back this year which is unfortunate

hurlingexpert (Clare) - Posts: 1903 - 04/05/2021 11:00:22    2339896

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Poor result today. Circumstances were not ideal, i do believe we can turn things around. Team selection is maybe an issue. Some players are not up to it, others have been given too many chances. The team i would like to see played is.
1Touhy
2Hayes
3Cleary
4Browne
5Ryan
6Co.Galvin
7McInerney
8J.McCarthy
9Kelly
10Malone
11Conlon
12A.McCarthy
13O'Donnell
14Shanagher
15Rodgers

hurlingexpert (Clare) - Posts: 1903 - 09/05/2021 22:42:06    2340823

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Replying To hurlingexpert:  "Poor result today. Circumstances were not ideal, i do believe we can turn things around. Team selection is maybe an issue. Some players are not up to it, others have been given too many chances. The team i would like to see played is.
1Touhy
2Hayes
3Cleary
4Browne
5Ryan
6Co.Galvin
7McInerney
8J.McCarthy
9Kelly
10Malone
11Conlon
12A.McCarthy
13O'Donnell
14Shanagher
15Rodgers"
oor result today. Circumstances were not ideal, i do believe we can turn things around. Team selection is maybe an issue. Some players are not up to it, others have been given too many chances. The team i would like to see played is.
1Touhy
2Hayes
3Cleary
4Browne
5Ryan
6Co.Galvin
7McInerney
8J.McCarthy
9Kelly
10Malone
11Conlon
12A.McCarthy
13O'Donnell
14Shanagher
15Rodgers

hurlingexpert (Clare) - Posts: 1881 - 09/05/2021 22:42:06

Antrim played well but we should be winning these games Cathal Malone is now one of our best players I would agree with most f that team but I would put Conlon in Full forward best our best threat still
If we could settle our Half back line we would be somewhat settled

I still think Touhy was our best goal keeper seems to be gone from panel
No doubt there will soon be pressure on B Lohan but we were slipping badly in 2019 lost 13 points V Tipp in Ennis walloped by Limerick

clooney (Clare) - Posts: 607 - 10/05/2021 09:17:31    2340855

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Replying To clooney:  "oor result today. Circumstances were not ideal, i do believe we can turn things around. Team selection is maybe an issue. Some players are not up to it, others have been given too many chances. The team i would like to see played is.
1Touhy
2Hayes
3Cleary
4Browne
5Ryan
6Co.Galvin
7McInerney
8J.McCarthy
9Kelly
10Malone
11Conlon
12A.McCarthy
13O'Donnell
14Shanagher
15Rodgers

hurlingexpert (Clare) - Posts: 1881 - 09/05/2021 22:42:06

Antrim played well but we should be winning these games Cathal Malone is now one of our best players I would agree with most f that team but I would put Conlon in Full forward best our best threat still
If we could settle our Half back line we would be somewhat settled

I still think Touhy was our best goal keeper seems to be gone from panel
No doubt there will soon be pressure on B Lohan but we were slipping badly in 2019 lost 13 points V Tipp in Ennis walloped by Limerick"
I would like to have Conlon at full forward, but i just feel we need a scorer at 11. I think shanagher and o'donnell have to be in there. Rodgers was the one standout player last year for the under 20s. Looks to have all the physical attributes as well as the hurling for this level, definitely deserves a go.
Cian Galvin will hopefully be an option longterm at center back for us, however i think he would need to develop physically over the next 2 years before i would put him in there.

hurlingexpert (Clare) - Posts: 1903 - 11/05/2021 09:58:52    2341048

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Disappointing to lose yesterday but a few positives also a lot better spirit bearing in mind we were missing C Galvin Davy M SOD & D Reidy also lost TK with dead leg.

E Quilligan made another mess of a puck out & as far as i could see first goal was v soft Touhy is a far better shot stopper and if he is too slow in puckouts what are coached there for he should be our no 1 Cleary has ropey moments every day but is probably our best option at 3.

Some of these players getting chances are not taking their opportunities

Touhy

Hayes
Cleary
Browne

Ryan
D Mac
Fitzgerald

Kelly/Galvin

Shanager
Reidy
Malone

Meehan
Conlon
SOD

clooney (Clare) - Posts: 607 - 17/05/2021 09:16:08    2342654

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Disappointed with the result yesterday, but a lot of positives to take from it. I think the red card changed the game, we were well on top at that stage.

I liked how we varried our style generally from being direct to short. However puckouts are an issue, we went long mostly and lost a lot of them. Then our short puckouts get us in trouble due to the inaccuracy of the striker.

If we have the absentees back for the championship game i think we will be waterford. Some players got a game yesterday and proved they are not at the required level, which is fine too. That's what the league is for.

If we had a center back i think we genuinely could do something this year. I think conlon has done ok at 6 but i would like him in the forward line, if he was inside with shanagher and O'Donnell then a direct style into those 3 top notch ball winners would cause teams an awful lot of problems.

But who to play 6 is the big question. I would like david mcinerney at 7. Ryan has be excellent at 5. I wouldnt move cleary from 3. Probably 3 options, stick with conlon, bring in pat o'connor who wont do anything flash but is experienced and hopefully would he solid there and can protect the full backline or else if you want a pure hurler there then possibly colm galvin.

When galvin is fit i dont see him and kelly being the midfield partnership. So either colm to 6 or tony to 11 i think would happen. I think one of the midfields needs to be a strong enforcer type, that's why i would put jason mccarthy in there.

hurlingexpert (Clare) - Posts: 1903 - 17/05/2021 09:52:11    2342669

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Replying To clooney:  "Disappointing to lose yesterday but a few positives also a lot better spirit bearing in mind we were missing C Galvin Davy M SOD & D Reidy also lost TK with dead leg.

E Quilligan made another mess of a puck out & as far as i could see first goal was v soft Touhy is a far better shot stopper and if he is too slow in puckouts what are coached there for he should be our no 1 Cleary has ropey moments every day but is probably our best option at 3.

Some of these players getting chances are not taking their opportunities

Touhy

Hayes
Cleary
Browne

Ryan
D Mac
Fitzgerald

Kelly/Galvin

Shanager
Reidy
Malone

Meehan
Conlon
SOD"
I hadnt seen your comment before i typed mine, my first line as well as a few other bits look like a copy of yours haha

hurlingexpert (Clare) - Posts: 1903 - 18/05/2021 09:44:54    2343001

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Terrible game in O Moore Park at one stage "Cheddar" had 3 sweepers around Shanagher stop start game frees galore
Still not convinced with Quiligan Hayes is a fine hurler and will stay @ 2 but he is very dizzy at times was miles off his man for Loais goal.

J Conlon wont do at 6 anyway we need him badly @ 14 J McCarthy always gives away crazy frees chopping down they always blow for it.

Good to see C Galvin back some of the younger players getting a start which is good Rodgers & the Aidan McCarthy ( who is also a fine freetaker) had good outings yesterday Shanaher will be needed but he has to put in a lot more work.

They need to find a home for David Fitzgerald & I think its in the halfback line with Ryan & D Mac & we would look a lot more solid

clooney (Clare) - Posts: 607 - 24/05/2021 08:50:59    2344818

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