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*Clare’s Shane O’Donnell. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

While he is delighted to be part of the Clare panel which will play defending champions Limerick in the Munster final in two weeks time, Shane O’Donnell believes that his biggest achievement this year was getting back on the playing pitch.

Having missed last year’s inter-county campaign due to a concussion injury, the Éire Óg attacker said after delivering a man of the match display at Cusack Park on Sunday, “it was tough to come back into it. I definitely had a long few months thinking whether I would be back on the pitch at all. It was a major milestone getting back on the pitch, togging out with Clare again”.

Returning to the Clare fold has “been brilliant,” he admitted. “The fact that I got back, I knew I had made the right decision. I have rolled a few challenges over the past few weeks, today again. I have got over that psychological challenge of thinking that every time I get a clip on my head I am going to a step back to where I was last year. I think I can safely say it’s behind me”, commented the All-Ireland winning hero from 2013.

“I came back training at the end of March and that was when I pulled the trigger and said I was going back into it. I was waiting to sign off from the professional I had been seeing last year. I said I was going back to him to do another full assessment and if he gives me the all clear I will go back and if he has any doubts I am not going to back. I kind of put it in his hands and he basically said I was 100% and he left it up to me and put it back in my court. Exposure is the main treatment and back on the pitch was definitely the right decision,” the Ennis native outlined.

Stepping back onto the field for the county team was a milestone for the UCC graduate. “When things are going well its brilliant and its brilliant to be out there. My first game, against Tipp, just togging out and going on the pitch, that was my biggest achievement this year, that would have been enough this year but obviously I am delighted to be in the Munster final”.

Preparations for Sunday’s clash with Waterford were unusual in the sense that there was nothing on the line for Clare. “It’s unique to be coming into a championship where the result is not the be all and end all and it’s more about keeping the momentum and keeping the performance. Mentally it was difficult but everyone put their shoulder to the wheel. We have a really good mental performance coach with us and to be honest we treated it like any other game this year”.

Championship occasions in Cusack Park are very special, he acknowledged. “There is a good mix of young and old in the panel and the vibe inside the panel is brilliant. When you come and work hard the crowd appreciate that on top of everything else and when you get a couple of good wins under your belt people want to come and see. We are delighted with the crowd, it’s been brilliant especially the last day and today again. It’s brilliant coming to Cusack Park on a day like today”.

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