*Clare senior hurling manager, Brian Lohan. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Clare senior hurling manager Brian Lohan has hailed Tony Kelly as a “once in a generation player” and pinpointed their sluggish start to the second half as a key factor for Sunday’s ten point defeat.
Lohan’s first championship outing in charge of the county’s senior hurlers ended in defeat to Limerick as the 2018 All-Ireland champions knocked Clare out of the Munster championship.
Despite a positive opening half in which they fired the final three scores to be on level terms at 0-15 apiece, Clare were outscored 0-21 1-08 in the second half.
Reflecting on the loss, the Shannon man believed their concession of six scores in succession at the beginning of the second half made life much easier for Limerick. “It’s disappointing, immediately after half-time the five points that they got put us on the back foot and made defending their goal easier for them in the second half”.
“I thought their full-back line was a little bit too comfortable in that second half when they got that five point cushion at the start, they could sit deeper. They have quality and good players all over the field, physically they are very strong with a good spirit about them. We knew they were good players with a good team, we knew what we were up against”.
Ballyea’s Tony Kelly was to the fore throughout the contest hitting 0-17 over seventy minutes, eight of which came from play. Lohan who previously managed the 2013 Hurler of the Year with UL praised his input throughout the Munster quarter-final. “We depend on Tony a lot, when Tony produces it he is a once in a generation player, he is really good”.
He admitted that the lack of support for Kelly was “disappointing” but added, “I wouldn’t fault any of the players for their spirit and effort, we came up against a really good team”.