Clare hurling manager Brian Lohan had good reason to be happy at Cusack Park on Saturday afternoon.
He had just watched his charges inflict a first defeat of the campaign on Kilkenny and, in the process, score an impressive tally of 4-20.
“I am delighted with that, delighted with how we played and delighted with the contribution we got from all of our panel”, commented the All star full back.
Lohan admitted that an aspect of Clare’s preparation was to tackle Kilkenny’s dominance in the air. “Kilkenny are the masters of the skies and they have done that for years, for generations. When you are playing against Kilkenny you have to try and match them in the air. It was a little bit of a focus for us but, look, Kilkenny are superb in the air”.
Having lost a seven point lead and seen the visitors go ahead he was pleased with Clare’s response and how they finished the game. “The thing is any of these teams are not going to dominate for 70/75 minutes. There will be occasions when you will go well and occasions when things will go against you. The important thing is not to drop the heads or to put the heads up too high when you are ahead”.
Both Aaron Fitzgerald and David McInerney were forced off with injuries before half-time. The former Clare full-back had yet to receive a detailed update on the extent of their injuries when speaking to the media on Saturday.
“We have a panel of 38 guys working hard, you get knocks and lose players and that gives an opportunity to someone else. I am delighted with the response from the bench today, delighted with the way they played. They are doing the same amount of work as all of the guys and often they only get 10 or 15 minutes and it can be very frustrating for them. For the 11 guys or 12 that didn’t make the match day squad, it’s a big set back for them”.
Kilkenny boss Brian Cody was disappointed not to have come out on the right side of the result. “This was a hugely competitive game, we didn’t win and we are disappointed. Twice in the game Clare got a good lead and we came back and got ahead. We conceded two goals in two minutes after the last water break, they were key scores. We came back after that but conceded the last four points which we are disappointed with too. It’s three weeks to the championship and this was great preparation for the championship and that’s what its all about”.
Asked if teams have time to settle after the water breaks he said “obviously one team does so why shouldn’t the two, I would never read too much into that. The lads know that the games are been played this year the same as last year. Its a lack of concentration and that should never happen”.
“Today was another game we wanted to win. Coming down here is always a big challenge, always has been over the years. We tried very very hard to win the game and we put ourselves in a position a few times where we thought wse could win it. We are disappointed but it has helped me as regards preparation for the championship”, the long serving Kilkenny manager said.