*Ryan Taylor offloads the ball under pressure from David Blanchfield. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

NOT ALONE was Ryan Taylor’s return a huge boost for him, his family and Clare supporters but it was also a turning point in the game in helping his county qualify for the All-Ireland senior hurling final.

Forty nine minutes into Sunday’s All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final at Croke Park a huge Clare roar went up, marking the arrival onto the match of Ryan Taylor.

The Clooney-Quin man had made a huge impact throughout last season’s league and championship run which ended at the All-Ireland semi-final stage.

An anterior cruciate ligament knee injury meant that he has been out of action for the past twelve months, having sustained the injury in their All-Ireland semi-final versus Kilkenny last year. “Nearly a year to the day against the same opposition in the same venue, it was an unbelievable feeling, I was hoping we were still in it and just an unbelievable feeling, it was great to be back”.

He added, “The boys had me well prepared, I’ve done a lot of hard work the last year, the physios have been unreal, S&C coach and the hurling has been really good, they put in the work and got me back there”.

Reports that he would see some game time in the quarter final against Wexford didn’t materialise but when he was named in the match day squad for Sunday’s clash with Kilkenny, there was joy amongst the Clare following. The midfielder certainly made a big contribution to Clare dominance in the final quarter of Sunday’s contest.

Speaking after the game he said “it’s brilliant to be back. Its nearly a year to the day since I got injured and I am over the moon to be back and to be part of it and contribute to the team, that was my goal”.

Brian Lohan had said Taylor was among Clare’s most impressive players in training over recent weeks. His form at sessions strengthened his belief that he would fit back in seamlessly to the cut and thrust of championship. “The fact I’ve been back training the last couple of weeks gave me the confidence, training is really intense so I knew I was close enough or near enough to the levels I was previously at so I was confident enough going on and all I wanted to do was help the team coming on and we did that”.

Asked if he ever felt that Sunday’s game was gone from the team, particularly after Kilkenny’s second goal he replied “there was no panic. You can’t panic, as soon as you panic you lose all of your senses and you have no chance. We kept chipping away, kept tacking on scores, that’s all you can do”.

He added, “They are an unbelievable team Kilkenny, they have beaten us the last two years and fairly well two years ago, they are an unbelievable team with all they have won and achieved so we just kept chipping away, eventually we got over the line and a few things went our way, they might have had a few wides and ours went over, fine margins at this level”.

Taylor said, “we got over the line, a few things went our way and didn’t go Kilkenny’s way, That’s the way sport is. It’s a 20 man game and the five subs are crucial, the boys do a lot of work, the starting fifteen but I suppose it’s up to the five finishers to come on and see can they get the job done”.

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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.

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