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# Raise the Banner
'No-brainer' for Clare boss Lohan to stay on, says Tony Kelly, as star forward returns home
Peter Duggan is back from Australia for club championship, and Kelly is ‘hoping he’s home for good’.

CLARE HURLING STAR Tony Kelly says it’s a “no-brainer” that Brian Lohan should stay on at the helm if he wishes to.

Optimistic that the Banner are building for an exciting future while speaking to the media today as PwC Player of the Month for June, Kelly also confirmed that Peter Duggan is home from Australia for club championship.

brian-lohan Ryan Byrne / INPHO Brian Lohan speaking to his Clare team. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Top scorer in the 2018 inter-county championship, Duggan headed Down Under in November. Back on these shores for Clooney/Quin’s tilt, Kelly is unsure of his former team-mate’s future plans but is “hoping he’s home for good”.

Likewise with Lohan in the hot-seat. His future as Banner boss has been up in the air since his side’s championship exit at the hands of Cork last month.

It’s reported that the two-time All-Ireland winner is taking some time before deciding whether he wants to remain in charge of the county, having succeeded joint-managers Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor ahead of the 2020 season.

Two-time All-Star Kelly is keen to see Lohan take the reins once again, as talk rages on.

“The only debate should be whether he wants to stay on himself. If he wants to stay on, he should be given the job. Any players I have been speaking to, or personally myself, would love to see him stay on.

“I think he’s done an excellent job, given the circumstances as well with Covid. In your first year having [to deal with] Covid was a disaster and again, having it the second year as well — albeit you could kind of learn and get a bit of experience from the first one on how to manage it.

“Definitely. From a personal point-of-view and a team point-of-view, I think it’s a no-brainer. If he wants the job, he should be given the job.”

pwc-gaa-gpa-player-of-the-month-in-hurling-for-june-2021 Eóin Noonan / SPORTSFILE PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month in hurling for June, Tony Kelly (Clare) with his award today at his home club Ballyea GAA. Eóin Noonan / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

Kelly reflected on an “improved” 2021 for Clare, pointing out that while they progressed further last year in reaching the All-Ireland quarter-final, better overall team developments were made in their run to the last round of the qualifiers this time around.

“I do feel we improved quite a bit from last year but it’s a results-driven business and we’re sitting at home for an All-Ireland quarter-final and semi-final, which is disappointing,” he added.

It has been an upward trajectory under Lohan, Kelly says, with new players found and others playing in different positions. Rory Hayes, Paul Flanagan, Diarmuid Ryan, Aidan McCarthy, and Mark Rodgers all got a mention as “main players and leaders in the team” were unearthed.

“Our overall style of play and application, I think Brian has instilled an edge about Clare hurling again,” he continued. “I know we played four games, we won two and lost two but you could see that the performance was similar in all of them.

“There was a cutting edge to us and the only kind of disappointing bit was maybe the first half against Cork, we didn’t get to the pitch of it in the first half and I felt we played the first half on their terms. We rectified it in the second half, but not enough to get over the line.

“There’s been strides in certain lads coming onto the panel and Brian’s idea in how he wants us to play as well has probably brought us on an extra level as well.”

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peter-duggan-tony-kelly-and-shane-odonnell-tackle-dan-mccormack James Crombie / INPHO Peter Duggan, Tony Kelly and Shane O'Donnell tackling Dan McCormack of Tipperary in 2019. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Speaking about rising duo Shane Meehan and Cian Galvin, despite their absence through injury, and the need to accelerate their development a bit quicker than normal to bridge the age gap, another pair spring to mind:

“Look, it is exciting. If we can try and get Shane O’Donnell back fit, and Peter Duggan as well, who would be massive, massive additions,” he noted.

When pressed on Duggan’s situation, Kelly added: “I think they’re playing club championship on Saturday or Sunday so I think he’s home for that. So hopefully…

“I’m not sure, I’m hoping he’s home for good! And Shane O’Donnell as well. It probably went under the radar this year a bit, Shane being out. But Shane is one of our best hurlers, if not our best forward. He’s irreplaceable for us and he was a massive loss to us this year.

“To get him back and get Peter back would be two massive, massive additions and a massive help for us. A county like Clare can’t afford to be down without those two big players.”

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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