*Cian Nolan holds off Blaine Earley as he wins the race for possession. Photograph: Ruth Griffin

True leadership becomes apparent when the need is greatest and in the case of Smith O’Briens’ hurlers, it has been typified by joint captain Cian Nolan.

Now ten years on the panel, the full-back is one of a handful of survivors from the Killaloe side that last played senior championship, they dropped from the top tier in 2013 and have been edging closer to a return with each passing year.

His dedication to the cause is hard to fault but it is the actions of the twenty seven year old on the field of the play when grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck that earns him deserved plaudits. Such as his commanding finish to their quarter-final win over Tubber this year and how he has constantly stepped up to the mark when assigned the task of quietening the most difficult forward on the opposing team.

Recognition in the form of a call-up to Brian Lohan’s Clare panel followed on the back of his displays last year. “I wasn’t really expecting the call up to be honest,” the civil engineer with Limerick based Punch Consultants Engineers admitted.

An ever-present attendee at club training, his county commitments posed the unusual scenario of club training happening without Nolan’s involvement but it was something he managed to manoeuvre around. “It was a bit strange to be missing the first few club trainings but we worked around it and trained on days when I was able to make training so at least I could get up to the field and support the lads which was frustrating in itself but it was better than missing training altogether, it’s good to be around the lads”.

That Lohan and his management appreciate the standard on offer in the intermediate championship brings an added incentive. “It is good that they are looking at intermediate teams because there’s good quality hurlers there along the top teams and even some of the mid-level teams and it’s good that they are looking they are looking past the senior competition,” Cian surmised.

Maturity is flagged by the All-Ireland U21 winner as a reason why the Killaloe side have advanced to the county final, eight years on from being relegated. “The age profile was very young for a good while, in the last year or two lads matured a good bit, the age profile is around 25-28 on average, lads have matured and bought in over the last year or two more so than ever. The oldest on the team for years would have only been two or three years older than me, at one stage the oldest on the team was 25 or 26, we had a young team for years, we were hit hard by emigration and a lot of lads packed their bags, this year the experience is coming to fruition”.

Another help has been the camaraderie amongst the panel, “it’s always been tight-knit since I’ve been on the panel, everyone seems to be good friends, that is helping us a bit more this year. It’s a very tight knit group, everyone is friendly with everyone and it helps that there is never too many arguments which affect us so that is good”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Nolan noted that players are enjoying the build-up but are “trying not to get too carried away with it, it’s nice to see the houses decorated around the town and people are making an effort to support us which is nice”. He is one of the long-standing members of the panel but Cian has to go back to his U14 days to recall his last occasion representing Smith O’Briens in a county final.

On Sunday, he is joint captain of the side alongside Paddy Gough, in the role he’s quite satisfied to let his hurling do the talking. “I told him he can take the coin toss and I’ll step aside. There good be ten captains on the team, there isn’t any real captain’s role as such, there are so many lads who have stepped up to the plate this year that there hasn’t been any need for a captain to step in at any time so there’s no real pressure being captain of the team”.

Returning to the county final is a plus that is made all the sweeter by the fact it is to be played in Cusack Park, the Killaloe man stated. “It’s brilliant, the last time we were there was six years ago, it is a great day out playing in Cusack Park no matter what stage of the competition it is, it will be enjoyable especially on a county final day. With an open field we might actually be able to play hurling if the weather permits instead of getting caught in a slugfest, hopefully it will be a good game with an open field to suit both teams”.

Slugfest or not, if matters swing the way of Smith O’Briens expect Nolan to be one of the driving forces proudly wearing the number three jersey.

Related News

ennis train station 1
Additional trains running for All-Ireland hurling final
clare v kilkenny 06-07-24 supporters 2
Issues with All-Ireland hurling final tickets prompts pause of online sales
fire station vans 1-2
Hot wheels for Clare County Fire & Rescue Service
Visit of An Taoiseach Micheal Martin TD for the DeValera Day 40th Anniversary-10
'Collective positive mood needed for Ennis 2040 to prosper' says Tánaiste
Latest News
fire station vans 1-2
Hot wheels for Clare County Fire & Rescue Service
Visit of An Taoiseach Micheal Martin TD for the DeValera Day 40th Anniversary-10
'Collective positive mood needed for Ennis 2040 to prosper' says Tánaiste
WhatsApp Image 2024-07-12 at 10.16
Denise loses half stone in first week of Slimming
clare v sligo minor ladies football 11-07-24 aisling kelly 1
Sligo reign supreme over Clare minors in All-Ireland semi-final
doolin pier 1
'What has happened' - Doolin Pier plans at a standstill
Premium
moneypoint killimer 7
Moneypoint will continue to be a 'big employer' for West Clare
newmarket celtic vs avenue utd 03-06-23 10 darragh leahy conor hehir
Leahy's 50 game ban cut in half following appeal by Newmarket Celtic
cathal crotty 1
'We are not afraid of the monster under the bed or shadowy figures, we're afraid of Cathal Crotty'
ennis courthouse tent 24-02-21 4
Anti-vaccine activist pleads guilty to assaulting Clare Garda
magowna house inch refugees 16-05-23 19
Magowna House refugees to be moved on

Subscribe for just €3 per month

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.

Subscribe for just €3 per month

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.

Scroll to Top