*Clare manager, Brian Lohan. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

COLLECTING their first win of the 2022 Allianz National Hurling League was a “massive” result for Clare’s senior hurlers, manager Brian Lohan admitted.

Tony Kelly returned to chip in with 2-12 of Clare’s 4-20 tally as they overcame Offaly by sixteen points on Sunday. The distance was not always as great with just a single point between the teams with ten minutes remaining.

Lohan was pleased to collect the points and with how his charges concluded matters in Tullamore. “We’re very happy with the finish. Traditionally, there would have been no real fear of Offaly and vice versa so regardless of the quality of both sides at different stages, both would always fancy their chances. This was a tough game against tough opponents in tough conditions and we weren’t really playing with great confidence. So to turn things around so much in the last ten of 15 minutes showed great endeavour”.

He stressed the importance of Clare ending a winless streak, “It’s massive, you could see we were lacking a bit of confidence, it’s hard to get that win under your belt”.

Shane Meehan finished the day with 2-01 to his name and ended up included on the GAA team of the week as a result. “Shane does threaten every single time he is on the field, I thought he got a bit of treatment as well but he is going to get that unfortunately, he does need to be protected,” Lohan said.

“We were conscious coming up that there were a number of younger players being introduced from the start today. Patrick Crotty, Darren O’Brien and Shane were either making their starting debuts or were close to their debut so it was a big ask for them as this is a tough competition but they’re well able for it and I’m delighted for all three of them to come through it”.

Seeing Kelly and Peter Duggan was a big plus, the Shannon man noted. “It was a good result and great to get the likes of Tony [Kelly] and Peter [Duggan] back on the field again. They’ve all had serious injuries, you would love to have them back but you can’t be forcing them back, Tony had a serious ankle injury and we had to give it time, Peter got ten or fifteen minutes which will bring him on a bit”.

Clonlara’s John Conlon reverted to defence again, on the rationale behind this, Lohan explained, “We like having John in the half-back line, he is tough and robust, he is very strong on the ball, he reads it well”.

Limerick return to Cusack Park on Sunday, “We’re facing the best team in the country against Limerick so it’s a challenge for us and we’ll take it on,” the Clare boss said of the task.

Offaly manager, Michael Fennelly was pleased with fifty five minutes of their showing “but the last 15 was very poor to be honest. The goals we conceded we wouldn’t be happy with at all. Overall, for 55 minutes, the lads did very well and created some good scores. We probably needed to threaten the goal a bit more really so we’ve plenty to work on.

“It was important to stay in the game and we did that well and it was there for us but probably a few bad decisions in the backline cost us and when a few goals go in, it’s a killer. Clare really got on top at that stage and drove on because they were hungry for that first win as well. It made the scoreline look very unpretty, we were much closer than that. We knew that there was going to be a bit of hurt involved in playing in Division 1 this year but long-term I think this is a good thing for Offaly because they need experience,” the former Kilkenny hurler added.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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