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Blows for Clare and Tyrone as captain and forward opt out for 2020

It’s reported the Banner will be without stalwart Gary Brennan while Connor McAliskey has stepped away from the Red Hand set-up.

Tyrone forward Connor McAliskey and Clare captain Gary Brennan.
Tyrone forward Connor McAliskey and Clare captain Gary Brennan.
Image: Inpho.

IN THIS PERIOD of change around the counties, Clare and Tyrone are the latest to be dealt blows ahead of the 2020 Gaelic football season.

The Banner will be without their captain Gary Brennan, the Clare Champion reports.

It’s understood the Clonegad star informed the panel this week that he will not be available for the campaign.

Brennan has been a long-standing pillar of Clare football, since first joining the senior ranks in 2007. He’s worked under Páidí Ó Sé, Frank Doherty, Míchéal McDermott and Mick O’Dwyer, all before Colm Collins took over. 

The dual star — he also hurls with Ballyea — has been a huge leader under Collins, and an instrumental figure through the county’s rise. In 2016, he lifted the Division 3 title at Croke Park. This year, the Banner were one point short of the Super 8s, after losing out to Meath.

Brennan was nominated for an All-Star this year — this 14th season in-a-row.

Clare are also without his fellow All-Star nominee Jamie Malone (travelling), Sean O’Donoghue and Aaron Fitzgerald for 2020.

Meanwhile in Tyrone, Connor McAliskey has opted out of the Red Hand set-up.

Mickey Harte confirmed the news to Francis Mooney for the Irish Examiner last night — “He doesn’t feel that he’s ready to commit for this particular year,” the manager said. “I don’t think it’s a retirement as such, it’s just a break” — while it’s been reported in several national outlets today.

The player himself told The Irish News this morning: “It has been a tough couple of years for me both in terms of injuries and personally and I just feel the time is right to take a step back, be selfish and put myself first.

I just feel that physically and mentally I’m not ready to commit to next season and Mickey fully understands my decision.

“The door isn’t closed on my Tyrone career but for the moment I have to be greedy for once and put myself first.”

The 28-year-old Red Hand forward broke his ankle last September and faced into a lengthy spell on the sidelines, not long after missing the majority of Tyrone’s 2017 campaign due to a cruciate injury.

In 2018, McAliskey impressed as he finished the season as the joint-second top scorer in the All-Ireland SFC with 2-41 to his name. This year, his game time was limited due to injury and other changes in attack.

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His departure comes as another blow for the Ulster county this week, after it was confirmed that two-time All-Star Mattie Donnelly is likely to miss most of the National League with a hamstring injury.

It’s the latest in a busy off-season for Tyrone, which saw several changes in Harte’s backroom team.

The42 reached out to both counties for comment, and received this from a Tyrone spokesperson on Sunday:

“Connor has made the decision to opt out of the Senior Panel for 2020.This was a personal decision made by Connor which we all respect.”

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Emma Duffy

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