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ANGRY GER HITS BACK; Controversial Clare manager launches astonishing attack.

UNDER fire Clare boss Ger Loughnane has launched an astonishingly scathing attack on critics of his All-Ireland champions.

In the most extraordinary outburst ever by a senior GAA figure, Loughnane breaks his silence to give his side of the headline grabbing controversies of the past fortnight.

And in a pit-bull like assault just days before he leads his team into a third All-Ireland semi-final in four seasons, he savages the GAA's top brass, the media - and even a rival manager.

l Loughnane accuses the Munster Council of conducting a "witch-hunt" against him personally.

l He claims those attacks are being driven by a "shady individual" whom he asserts "could be called the Don Corleone of the Munster Council."

l The Clare boss says his players have been defamed by the media. He senses an "air of anger among Clare supporters which I've never seen before".

Double All-Ireland winner Loughnane insists a Banner official heard GAA VIPs describe the Clare team as "tinkers", Loughnane as a "tramp" and suggest that his players were "on drugs".

He argues that the Munster Council officials had decided Clare midfielder Colin Lynch should be suspended before they had even discussed the referee's report of the Munster semi-final.

Loughnane says he can link an unnamed influential GAA member with a scandal that could "rock the GAA to its foundations".

And he claims he should not have to serve a touchline ban in Sunday's clash with Offaly.

Clare have been buried beneath an avalanche of criticism in recent weeks as a result of the physical tactics they employed in the Munster final replay.

Their approach that afternoon resulted in a national outcry - and a record number of calls of complaint to RTE's Sports Call programme.

Clare had Allstar full-back Brian Lohan sent-off and video evidence highlights another Allstar, Colin Lynch, pulling furiously on both opponents and team-mates in the opening seconds.

In addition, Loughnane is caught making regular illegal intrusions onto the pitch during the course of the game.

But Loughnane, makes no apologies. He calls on "every man woman and child in Clare" to help produce a win on Sunday they can "stick down the throats of all those who have castigated us.

"The people of the Munster Council and the national media will not break this team," he adds.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Curtis, Roy
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 6, 1998
Words:384
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