*Clare’s Shane O’Donnell. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Balance is the key was the message issued by Brian Lohan on their panel rotation while he also expressed his satisfaction at Clare securing their place in the knockout stages of the Allianz National Hurling League.
Dominant in the opening half which included holding a five point advantage, Clare had to settle for a share of the spoils with Kilkenny on Sunday. The Cats were the stronger in the second half, outscoring the visitors 1-09 1-07 and as such Lohan was relieved to come out of Nowlan Park with a point. “It could have gone either way, I’m delighted to get something out of the game because for long periods of the second half it didn’t look like we were going to get anything out of it”.
Justified praise has been extended to the Shannon native for the amount of players being trialled in the League thus far. “It’s a balance, we want to try give everyone some game time, all thirty five on the panel are working hard and they all want to play, we can only play fifteen or twenty each day, they are all working hard and deserve their chance. If we can get guys in we will but it’s a balance because we want to win as well”.
Of frustration from Clare’s point of view was their tally of seventeen wides. “Both teams had uncharacteristic wides, some of the guys that shot those wides you wouldn’t normally be expecting them to put those wides, it’s the first dry ball we’ve played with in months and it takes a bit of time to get to grips with that. We’ll have to work on the number of wides. How many had Kilkenny? In the first half, they had a lot, even though it wasn’t a strong breeze it was a tough breeze to play into, they were dominant for the first twenty minutes of the second half but our lads showed a good bit coming back into it”.
Had it not been for Shane O’Donnell scoring 2-01, the complexion of the tie would have been much different. Brian admitted he never appreciated the class of the Éire Óg attacker until taking the reigns as senior manager. “I was never involved with him at underage, I never realised how good he was until I saw him up close, he is a good player, a really good player and he showed it there”.
He was pleased with the “resilience and toughness” shown by the players in saffron and blue so far in the League. “We’re in the quarter-finals now, we have the game coming against Dublin to see if we can top the group, we’re happy with that”.