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'There is genuine concern that we’re not as strong' - Key losses in Clare squad heading into championship

John Conlon and Colm Galvin are among the main absentees for the hurlers.

Colm Galvin in action for the Clare hurlers.
Colm Galvin in action for the Clare hurlers.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

JAMESIE O’CONNOR says there is “genuine concern” in the county that the Clare hurlers are heading into the 2020 championship with a weakened squad.

The Banner has suffered some key losses in personnel recently for various reasons including travel and injury.

Peter Duggan is in Australia after deciding to travel Down Under after the 2019 season. Fellow star foward John Conlon is also unvailable after sustaining a cruciate ligament injury earlier this year during a training session.

Clonlara’s Colm Galvin recently announced that he will sit out the championship season in a bid to recover fully from a groin injury, but will remain part of Brian Lohan’s setup in a non-playing capacity. 

Podge Collins is reported to be the latest absentee in the Clare squad according to the Irish Examiner.

It’s believed that the 2013 All-Ireland winner will not be involved for the remainder of their 2020 campaign, as they prepare for their Munster SHC quarter-final/Division 1 final against Limerick on Sunday, October 25.

“We knew that Peter [Duggan] was gone at the start of the year and he was always going to be a big loss for us,” says Clare hurling legend O’Connor.

Then losing John Conlon was a huge blow, that’s arguably our two biggest ball-winners gone out of the forward line.

“Colm Galvin has shown serious consistency going back to his U21 days, he’s been a phenomenal player and the Podge [Collins] obviously has opted out as well so it’s far from ideal.

“Playing Limerick and the poisoned chalice of playing Tipp then after, the draw hasn’t been kind either so there is genuine concern that we’re not as strong as we’d like to be or we’d need to be but look, it’s up to the other players now like Tony Kelly and Shane O’Donnell to step up and provide leadership and get the best out of themselves and be as good as they can be.”

sky-sports-gaa-championship-launch Clare hurling legend Jamesie O'Connor. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

The start of the GAA championships have been moved from their traditional summer slot on account of the Covid-19 shutdown, with both football and hurling competitions being reformatted and condensed to fit into the calendar year.

With winter weather setting in, games are likely to be played in wet and windy conditions which could implicate the quality of the games.

O’Connor is confident that playing surfaces around the country are equipped to deal with the inclement weather, but stresses that nothing is certain about the rest of the 2020 season.

“Look, it’s not like we’re heading to a ground where it will be soft underfoot. All those top inter-county grounds will have underfoot conditions as good as you’d get anywhere. I don’t think it’s going to be as big an issue as it might have been a good few years ago when the pitches mightn’t have been as good.

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“We’re all hoping the weather holds up but it’s something we’ve no control over, just like the whole Covid thing.

“Listen we’re hoping that we won’t have an asterisk beside it with certain teams having to pull out at certain stages but it is inevitable that it may happen at some point. With the time frame that’s there, they won’t be wiggle room so fingers crossed it all goes well.

“But it is massive for the national mood that we get the games played, I see it with my own kids and my own family.

“My father’s 86 like, and he’s still talking about the Tipp county final. So fingers crossed Covid won’t put a spanner in the works.”

Jamesie O’Connor was speaking at the launch of Sky Sports’ Championship.

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