Clare senior hurling manager Ger ‘Sparrow’ O’Loughlin fears he may lose more players to emigration.
And O’Loughlin fears that O’Connell, 26, may not be the only departure from his squad in the months ahead.
O’Loughlin revealed: "In fairness to our county board, they have put together over the last two years a work committee, with three or
four people involved in that.
"They are fantastic. They sit down, search and see are there any companies around the Clare and Limerick area (looking for people) to get guys something, even on a temporary basis, to see them through the season. We got two or three jobs last year that kept lads off the dole queues
and this year, we have three lads not working. We’ll work hard to see what we can do, but is the environment out there? We’re not alone
and this is a European problem. Unemployment has risen substantially over the last 12 months. We’ll see can we hold them here
but it won’t be easy."
O’Loughlin, a successful businessman in his own right, noted: "Manufacturing companies have dwindled considerably. I see it big time
in the Shannon Industrial estate. We’ve had multinationals folding after 25 or 30 years, with very little previous talk of them closing their doors.
The Shannon Industrial Estate is fairly depleted if you drive through it. Dell and others have relocated to Poland and Hungary with the loss of
thousands of jobs. Counteracting this is a big challenge but we have to come up with new ideas, know our cost base and see can we attract manufacturing companies. The situation is more severe than the 1980s, when I started out. Then, you could go to England or America but jobs
there are very hard to come by as well."