Ger Loughnane

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Ger Loughnane
Personal information
Irish name Gearóid Ó Lachtnáin
Sport Hurling
Position Right wing-back
Born 1953 (age 60–61)
Feakle, County Clare, Ireland
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Nickname Ger
Occupation Retired primary school principal
Club(s)
Years Club
Feakle
Club titles
Clare titles 1
Inter-county(ies)*
Years County Apps (scores)
1972-1987 Clare 26 (0-1)
Inter-county titles
Munster titles 0
All-Irelands 0
NHL 2
All Stars 2
*Inter County team apps and scores correct as of 23:40, 19 February 2014.

Gerard "Ger" Loughnane (born 1953) is an Irish retired hurler who played as a right wing-back for the Clare senior team.[1]

Born in Feakle, County Clare, Loughnane first excelled at hurling whilst at school in St. Flannan's College. He made his first impression on the inter-county scene at the age of seventeen he joined the Clare minor team, before later joining the under-21 team. He made his senior debut during the 1972-73 National Hurling League. Loughnane went on to play a key role for Clare for the next fifteen years, and won two National Hurling League medals.

As a member of the Munster inter-provincial team at various times throughout his career, Loughnane won two Railway Cup medals. At club level he is a one-time championship medallist with Feakle.

Throughout his career Hayes made 26 championship appearances for Clare. His retirement came following the conclusion of the 1987 championship.

In retirement from playing, Loughnane became involved in team management and coaching. During a six-year term as manager of the Clare senior hurlers, he guided the team to two All-Ireland and three Munster titles. His two-year term in charge of Galway ended without success.

Biography[edit]

Ger Loughnane was born in Feakle, County Clare.He was educated at his local national school where he was first introduced to the game of hurling, before later attending St. Flannan's College in Ennis, a virtual academy for young and gifted hurlers. During his tenure at St. Flannan's, Loughnane won a Munster Colleges Under-15 medal, as well as playing on the college teams that lost Dean Ryan and Harty Cup finals. He also played hurling with St. Patrick's College in Dublin, where he trained as a primary school teacher. It is interesting to note that one of his contemporaries at St. Patrick's was Brian Cody, a future hurling star with Kilkenny and the current manager of the team. Following his graduation Loughnane returned to County Clare and he was the principal at St. Aidan's primary school in Shannon from its foundation in 1986 until 2011.

Playing career[edit]

Club[edit]

Loughnane played his club hurling with his local Feakle club. He enjoyed some success at underage levels before winning a senior county title in 1988.

Inter-county[edit]

Loughnane's skills as a hurler were quickly noted and he soon became a member of the Clare minor hurling team. As a minor he played in the 1971 Munster final but only faced defeat. He later became a member of the under-21 side that lost Munster finals in 1972 and 1974. Loughnane made his senior debut in 1972 in a National Hurling League game against Tipperary. It was the first of over 100 appearances for Loughnane in the National League and he soon became a key member of the team that captured back-to-back League victories in 1977 and 1978. One of Loughnane's biggest disappointments is the failure of that Clare side to capture at least one Munster Championship title. He made his championship debut in 1973, coming on as a substitute against Limerick, and later played in five Munster finals. Unfortunately Loughnane ended up on the losing side on all five occasions in 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1986. In spite of this his talent was recognised when he became the first Clareman to win an All-Star award in 1974, with a second award following in 1978. Loughnane’s exceptional talent was also evident when he was picked as a player on six Munster Railway Cup teams. In all he won three winners' medals in that competition. Loughnane retired from inter-county hurling in the late 1980s.

Management career[edit]

Ger Loughnane
Inter-county management
Years County
1994-2000
2006-2008
Clare
Galway
Inter-county titles
County League Province All-Ireland
Clare
Galway
0
0
3
0
2
0

Managing Clare[edit]

Although Loughnane was noted as a great hurler in a county that was starved of success, it is for his exploits as manager of the Clare senior hurlers in the 1990s that he is best known. His managerial career began in the early 1990s when he became a selector on the Clare senior hurling team under Len Gaynor. He was later dropped after a heavy defeat, serving as manager of the Clare under-21 team in the intervening period, but returned as a senior selector in 1993. When Gaynor stepped down in 1994 Loughnane immediately became manager and was charged with preparing the team for the 1995 championship. His training sessions became infamous among players for their intensity and he made sweeping changes throughout the team.

After a winter of intense training Loughnane's side proved their worth by reaching the final of the National Hurling League. Kilkenny hammered Clare on that occasion. Loughnane was particularly annoyed when he saw one of the Kilkenny players putting the winning trophy into the boot of his car. In spite of this Loughnane still predicted that his side would win the provincial championship. Clare defeated Cork in the Munster semi-final and qualified for a final appearance against Limerick. Clare had lost the last two Munster finals, however, on this occasion Loughnane's side hurled Limerick off their feet and captured a 1-17 to 0-11 victory. It was the county's first provincial title since 1932. Clare celebrated and even took the provincial trophy on a tour of the county, however, they were given little chance against Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final. In the end the 3-12 to 1-13 victory was an easy one and Clare qualified to play reigning champions Offaly in the 1995 All-Ireland final. At half-time, in spite of conceding a goal, an animated Loughnane did a brief interview in which he confidently predicted "We're going to do it," before rushing off. His prediction came through and Clare were the All-Ireland champions for the first time in 81 years.

Clare surrendered their Munster and All-Ireland titles in their opening game in 1996. In an exciting game against Limerick Ciarán Carey provided one of the greatest match winners of all-time when he soloed the sliothar for 70 yards before scoring the winning point.

After an early defeat in 1996, Clare were out for victory in 1997. Once again they defeated Cork in a Munster semi-final before taking the scalp of Tipperary in the Munster final. The score line of 1-18 to 0-18 made them firm favourites to capture a second All-Ireland title. The subsequent All-Ireland semi-final saw Loughnane's side take on Kilkenny. Clare were on top for the entire game and ended up winning on a score line of 1-17 to 1-13. In the first year of the so-called 'back-door system' Tipperary had qualified for an historic All-Ireland final against Clare. It was the first all-Munster All-Ireland final. In what has been described as one of the games of the decade Clare came from behind at half-time to defeat Tipp for the second time that year with a score of 0-20 to 2-13. It was Loughnane's second All-Ireland title as manager. Furthermore, Clare had defeated the big three of Cork, Kilkenny and Tipperary on the way to the All-Ireland title. Only Waterford in 1959 had achieved that feat before.

The 1998 championship was to prove controversial for Loughnane and his Clare team. The replayed Munster final against Waterford was played in an extremely poor spirit with Colin Lynch of Clare and Michael White of Waterford being sent-off after a huge melee. Lynch received a three-month ban for his part in the game and Loughnane was disgusted at the decision. In spite of that Clare captured a third Munster title in four years. The subsequent All-Ireland semi-final saw Clare draw with Offaly. More controversy was to follow when Clare played Offaly in the semi-final replay. Clare were winning by two points when the referee, Jimmy Cooney, blew the whistle with two minutes of normal time left to be played. The Offaly fans were outraged and staged a sit-down protest on the pitch. The result wasn't allowed to stand and Clare were forced to meet Offaly for a third time that year. They lost the second replay, however, it has been said that if they won they would have captured a second All-Ireland title in-a-row. 1998 marked the end of the success for Loughnane's Clare side.

In 1999 Clare reached a sixth Munster final in seven years, however, in spite of aiming to retain their title a young Cork team caught Loughnane's side off guard and defeated the most dominant team in the provincial championship. Clare later drew with Galway in the All-Ireland quarter-final, however, they overcame the men from the West in the replay. Kilkenny provided the opposition in the subsequent All-Ireland semi-final, however, 'the Cats', under new manager Brian Cody, defeated Clare by 0-19 to 0-16.

Loughnane decided to remain in charge for one more season to see if he could gain revenge. The plan came unstuck in the Munster semi-final when Clare suffered a particularly heavy defeat by Tipperary. Loughnane resigned as manager of Clare shortly afterwards.

Managing Galway[edit]

In September 2006, the Galway senior hurling team, devoid of a manager after the resignation of Conor Hayes, issued a press release indicating their desire for Loughnane to take the vacant managerial position. Although he had already stated his disinterest in the position, he remained the favourite candidate to succeed Hayes, before Loughnane himself withdrew for the contest. In true Loughnane fashion, however, he re-entered the managerial race again and was named successor to Hayes.[2] After stating in 2000 that he would never take charge of an inter-county team again Loughnane was back.

Loughnane's first game in charge saw Galway take on Laois in the first-round of the qualifiers. A comprehensive 3-20 to 1-14 victory[3] gave Loughnane hope for his next game against his own-native county of Clare. The game, which took on a derby-type feel to it, was an exciting and close one, however, victory went to the Claremen.[4] The final whistle saw scenes resembling that of an All-Ireland final win with hundreds of Clare supporters bursting onto the pitch. A huge victory over Antrim[5] allowed Loughnnane's team advance to an All-Ireland quarter-final meeting with Kilkenny. This would be the first meeting of Loughnane and Brian Cody, two of the greatest managers of the modern era. For sixty minute both sides were neck and neck with no team taking too much of a lead. On several occasion it looked as if Galway might pull away and win the game, however, Kilkenny's Eddie Brennan scored two goals in the last ten minutes to give KIlkenny a 3-22 to 1-18 victory.[6] Following the game Loughnane entered into a war of words with Brian Cody after the former accused Kilkenny of striking late with the hurley and then referees letting them away with it.

When Loughnane took the Galway job he famously promised to quit if he failed to deliver the All-Ireland within two years. Galway had gone unbeaten in the National Hurling League and pipped Tipperary to a semi-final spot. Galway defeated Cork in this game, resulting in a league final showdown with Tipperary. The team has been a lot more settled compared to this time last year especially in the area of defence which is considered Galway's greatest weakness. Loughnane himself has adopted a much lower media profile with less of his trademark outbursts and wasn't even present for the launch of the National Hurling League. His side went out of the All-Ireland in the qualifiers after failing to beat Cork in July 2008.[7] Following a county board meeting on 19 August 2008 Loughnane agreed to stay on for one more year as Galway manager.[8] This decision resulted in some players expressing unease about his style and tactics. Amid accusations of 'player power', Loughnane was voted out of the job in October 2008.[9]

Managing St Aidan's National School[edit]

Loughnane enjoyed considerable success as manager of St Aidan's hurling team. In 2004 Loughnane lead the team to their first Division one Cumann na mBunscol title.

Media involvement[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Personal life and health[edit]

In June 2011 Loughnane was diagnosed with Leukemia.[10] It was falsely reported on 28 July 2011 that Loughnane had died. The news had spread over a number of social networking sites although it was quickly exposed as a hoax.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ger Loughnane". Hurling Stats website. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Galway confirm Loughnane appointment". RTÉ Sport. 26 September 2006. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  3. ^ "Laois 1-14 Galway 3-20". RTÉ Sport. 30 June 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  4. ^ "Clare 2-10 Galway 0-14". RTÉ Sport. 7 July 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  5. ^ "Galway 2-31 Antrim 1-09". RTÉ Sport. 14 July 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  6. ^ "Kilkenny 3-22 Galway 1-18". RTÉ Sport. 28 July 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  7. ^ "Galway 2-15 Cork 0-23". RTÉ Sport. 19 July 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  8. ^ "Loughnane Saga Drags On". Connacht Tribune. 21 August 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  9. ^ "Loughnane loses Galway post". RTÉ Sport. 14 October 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  10. ^ Bray, Allison (28 June 2011). "Friends confident Loughnane will win leukaemia battle". Irish Independent. 
  11. ^ http://www.joe.ie/gaa/gaa-news/hoax-ger-loughnane-death-rumour-spreads-like-wildfire-0014449-1
Sporting positions
Preceded by
John Minogue
Clare Senior Hurling Captain
1984
Succeeded by
Seán Stack
Preceded by
Len Gaynor
Clare Senior Hurling Manager
1994–2000
Succeeded by
Cyril Lyons
Preceded by
Conor Hayes
Galway Senior Hurling Manager
2006–2008
Succeeded by
John McIntyre
Achievements
Preceded by
Éamonn Cregan
(Offaly)
All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final
winning manager

1995
Succeeded by
Liam Griffin
(Wexford)
Preceded by
Liam Griffin
(Wexford)
All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final
winning manager

1997
Succeeded by
Michael Bond
(Offaly)