Ger Loughnane bigraphy, stories - Irish hurler

Ger Loughnane : biography

1953 - July 27, 2011

Ger Loughnane (born 1953 in Feakle) is an Irish hurling manager and former player. He played hurling with his local club Feakle and with the Clare senior inter-county team in the 1970s and 1980s. Loughnane has often been described as a controversial character in the world of hurling.

As a player Loughnane was involved with the Clare team of the 1970s, a team often described as one that under-achieved somewhat. In his senior inter-county career that lasted from 1972 until 1987 he won two National Hurling League titles and three Railway Cup titles with Munster. Clare came close to winning a Munster title in both 1977 and 1978, however, they were defeated by Cork on both occasions. Loughnane was also the first Clare person to be presented with an All Star award.

As a manager Loughnane has had remarkable success. As manager of the Clare senior inter-county team in the 1990s he guided his native-county to two All-Ireland titles and three Munster titles. Loughnane's achievements with Clare are all the more remarkable considering the fact that between 1933 and 1994 the county failed to win a provincial title. Loughnane later served as manager of the Galway senior inter-county from 2006 until 2008, however, in spite of promising an All-Ireland within two years his tenure at the helm was not a successful one.

Media involvement

Loughnane spent a number of years as a hurling analyst in the media. He wrote a column in The Star newspaper and regularly appeared as a pundit on RTÉ's The Sunday Game. In this capacity he earned a reputation as an outspoken critic of many hurling teams, including Clare.

Controversy

In February 2006, Loughnane was surprisingly overlooked for a place on the 'best Clare team of the last 25 years'. He was also passed over for a special 'services to Clare hurling' award. That award went instead to Fr. Harry Bohan, then a Clare hurling selector under manager Anthony Daly and the team manager in the 1970s when Clare, with Justin McCarthy acting as coach, won two National League titles.

The omission of Loughnane from the team and the decision to give such an award, the first of its kind, to Fr. Bohan raised questions about the deepening divide between Loughnane and some of the County Board officials he worked with during his tenure as county hurling manager. Loughnane had also received a backlash from some of his past players, most notably goalkeeper Davy Fitzgerald, and supporters in the county for his critical TV and newspaper analysis of the Clare hurling set-up and the team's performances throughout the previous two hurling seasons.

Loughnane telephoned the County Board Chairman Michael McDonagh to make known his displeasure about the awards. He confirmed that he used colourful terms to describe his annoyance. Loughnane made the call on speakerphone and forgot to hang up properly afterwards. He then called his friend Dr. Colum Flynn on his mobile phone. Flynn was the Clare hurling team’s physical therapist at the time and believed he was being undermined by the team management, then under the stewardship of Anthony Daly. Loughnane detailed to Flynn how he'd imagined shooting a certain person's head (reported by The Star newspaper to be Fr. Harry Bohan) that was on top of an oil can while out hunting. Heavy breathing emanating from the speakerphone alerted Loughnane to the fact that he failed to terminate the call to McDonagh, who is a member of the Garda Síochána. McDonagh then reported the matter to the Gardaí.

Loughnane was on holidays in France when the media storm erupted. He agreed to be interviewed by local radio station Clare FM from his holiday destination. Loughnane was asked to confirm if the character he had imagined shooting was Fr. Harry Bohan. Refusing to confirm or deny, Loughnane accused “this character” of being “insanely jealous of Clare’s success” during his tenure, adding: “I would regard (him) as the man, hurling-wise, who was the greatest failure ever in the history of Clare hurling.” Bohan was manager of the Clare team in the late 70s when it was widely perceived that that Clare team, which included Ger Loughnane, left at least one All-Ireland after them. He also hit out at another award recipient (widely believed to be top Croke Park official Sean Ó Laoire) describing him as “a traitor to the county” for his role in the Jimmy Cooney/early-whistle affair in 1998, which denied Clare a crack at a third All-Ireland in four years. In the same interview, Loughnane also suggested that the Clare Champion newspaper, co-sponsors of the awards, were hostile to him because they did not obtain rights to print exclusive extracts from his autobiography, ‘Raising the Banner’, before it was published five years previously.

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