After his Clare hurlers dispatched of Laois yesterday evening in the Allianz Hurling League, manager Brian Lohan took a moment to address the elephant in the room.
Clare were forced to play their weekend fixture without two squad members, after both had been deemed as close contacts of Wexford hurlers who had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. Wexford beat Clare by a single point the weekend previous.
The event caused bemusement in some circles. Within Clare GAA, the news caused anger: Lohan stated last night that two of his players had been "nominated" as close contacts by both positive cases.
Speaking to The Sunday Game, Lohan said:
We were contacted by the HSE to say that two of the Wexford players nominated two of our players as close contacts.
That was unusual for us, because any of the protocol that we do is aimed to try and make sure that we are casual contact rather than close contacts.
But, in one instance in particular, where a substitute came on for Wexford, he named one of our players as a close contact. I find it very unusual that that would be the case.
It didn't sit right with those in the Clare camp, per Lohan.
I don't think that we have to learn anything from it, we'll follow the rules whatever the rules are.
But certainly, there was a whole load of, a whole lot of anger amongst our set-up as a result of what happened.
"Certainly there was a whole lot of anger amongst our set-up"
Clare manager Brian Lohan speaks about the circumstances that led to two of his players being unavailable for selection after being deemed "close contacts" of Wexford players: https://t.co/lqMuWaG9Hu #RTEGAA pic.twitter.com/bjCFKmXAax
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) May 23, 2021
Lohan's claim that both Wexford players in question had "nominated" two of his own players as close contacts has caused a stir.
Just this morning, while speaking to South East Radio, Wexford GAA chairman Micheál Martin labelled Lohan's claims as "outrageous", and has called for the Clare manager to retract his statement made to The Sunday Game.
Wexford chairman Micheàl Martin tells south east radio - “The comments by Clare senior hurling manager are inaccurate.”
- hopes for a retraction
- says HSE can independently verify that no Wexford player listed Clare players as close contacts
More on @RTEgaa
— Damian Lawlor (@LawlorDamian) May 24, 2021
In a statement, the Wexford county board said:
Wexford GAA wish to address the comments made by Clare Senior Hurling Manager Brian Lohan on Sunday May 23rd. The suggestion made that members of Wexford GAA had somehow nominated Clare players as close contacts is factually incorrect. Wexford GAA have again spoken to HSE South East this morning and this position can be independently verified by HSE. Wexford GAA will continue to work through the protocols as requested by HSE.
In the context of this latest debacle, the history between Brian Lohan and current Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald won't be lost on anyone. In a more general sense, however, it's just another flashpoint in a turbulent time for Clare GAA: between financial controversies and years of under-achievement since the All-Ireland of 2013, it's not been a smooth ride.