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'We toughed it out' - Lohan hails Clare's fighting spirit

‘They keep going. There’s good stuff in them.’

Tony Kelly celebrates a late point.
Tony Kelly celebrates a late point.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

BRIAN LOHAN PAID tribute to his Clare players for the nature of their All-Ireland quarter-final turnaround against Wexford.

The Banner required a rousing finish after two goals in three minutes left Wexford six points in front with an hour played in Thurles.

Clare were looking sluggish by that stage with some of their leading players failing to make an impact.

An All-Ireland semi-final showdown with Kilkenny looked beyond Clare’s grasp, yet they managed to turn things around in remarkable fashion.

“Great credit due to our lads, we toughed it out,” said the relieved Banner boss.

“We were really disappointed with how we played in the first half and things went against us I suppose in the second half. But there’s a good bunch there, bit of a spirit and they did great in the end.

“We’ve a great bunch there and (we have) tremendous leaders all over the field so really happy for them. They’re getting some element of reward for doing what they’re doing.

“They’ve put in a huge amount of work over the last while and were very disappointed with being beaten in the Munster final. It was always going to be a tough game for us against a really good opponent. I’m just happy to come out the right side of the result.”

The introduction of Aron Shanagher and Shane Meehan helped turned the tide in Clare’s favour. They had a point apiece scored when Shanagher capiltised on Wexford’s failure to clear their lines and sent a ground strike into the net.

In stoppage-time the duo fired over another score each as part of a 1-9 to 0-2 run to the victors.

“I suppose we had put our lads under pressure, that we were going to need a performance from all the guys that came on,” continued Lohan.

“And we’ve got really good young lads, and then we’ve got older guys like Shanagher who wants to be there and wants to be on the starting 15, and he gets frustrated then when he’s not on the starting 15.

“Some of our marquee guys didn’t play well. But they are our marquee guys because they are marquee guys. And they keep going. There’s good stuff in them.

“You probably have some of the most exceptional talents that has ever been produced in Clare and they’re really hard workers as well. So it was great to see them respond like that.”

john-conlon-and-manager-brian-lohan-after-the-game Clare's John Conlon and manager Brian Lohan after the game. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Lohan didn’t feel the suspension talk surrounding Rory Hayes and Peter Duggan affected them coming into the game.

He made the decision to withdraw Hayes after just eight minutes.

“I suppose we just made a call. Cian Nolan had been performing very well in training and had performed very well for us in the matches that he’s played so it was just a switch we made.”

Asked if the saga made their preparation difficult, Lohan replied: “No, it wasn’t really. We thought that we had managed it fairly well but you can see form the first half that we weren’t as tuned in as we should have been.”

Wexford boss Darragh Egan said it would be unfair to accuse his team of folding in the final quarter.

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“We were six up and people say, ‘oh, we left the left the lead behind us’; that is not the way hurling works. There was 25 minutes left at that stage, we always knew we were going to be under pressure coming down the home straight.

“Ultimately, that is how it was. We lost a few bodies, a few lads in pivotal positions. But our lads gave it absolutely everything. They left blood sweat and tears out on that pitch, we couldn’t have asked anymore from them. Well done to Clare, they got over the line for a finish, but we made them work every minute for it.

With Shane Reck marshalling Tony Kelly for long spells and his brother Damien tracking Shane O’Donnell, Egan admitted their withdrawals negatively impact his team.

“We ran out of bodies there for a finish. I thought the two Recks were absolutely outstanding. Shane Reck, who was after having a 16-week hamstring week injury, he did an unbelievable job on Tony Kelly, as he always does. He is a great player. The two boys, we couldn’t get them off the pitch quick enough it was that type of game.

“When the two boys went off, a few holes started appearing in our defence. But to be fair to Clare, they started to up it through the gears and they started to come at us in waves from their half-back line and midfield, all credit to them for how they finished the game.” 

Losing star forward Rory O’Connor to injury inside the first quarter was another major blow. 

“He is a brilliant player, looks like a significant enough injury. He’ll have a scan over the next few days, so hopefully for Rory’s sake he will be okay for the club championship.

“He has been top class for us all year and he was a big loss for us today because he did look lively and looked like he was going to do damage down that far wing.” 

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / Reports from Semple Stadium

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