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*Patrick Crotty and Barry Nash watch as the sliotar flies by. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

PLENTY OF LEARNINGS will be taken from Clare’s disappointing nine-point loss to Limerick in the final of the Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling Cup.

Early frees from David Reidy had Clare 0-03 0-01 ahead with six minutes played of Sunday’s final but when a double from Colin Coughlan levelled matters, Limerick would push in front and hold onto the lead for the remainder of the contest.

Reflecting on the loss, Clare manager Brian Lohan outlined, “I think it was more than a training session, we lost a game, we were well beaten on the scoreboard, I’m disappointed enough with the extent of the defeat”.

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He added, “We tried to learn a bit from it, we showed a bit of desire, maybe it was only one or two points, we were able to get the ball over the bar, we got a good share of possession in the second half, we could have got more goals but didn’t”.

With the return of the round-robin provincial format, it is likely that the teams with the strongest panels will prevail. On this note, the first time senior appearances of Mike Gough, Darragh Lohan, Darren O’Brien, Patrick Crotty and Robin Mounsey in the competition were a plus. “We think we have a bit of quality in the guys we have, taking into account that we had nine guys #involved in Fitzgibbon Cup this week, very conscious of those guys, behind you is a good share of our lads that are long-term injuries, it’s important to get to those guys to be getting that game-time, a match like that against those Limerick lads is as good as ten training sessions”.

Playing against Limerick offers the Clare players and management the chance to learn, the Shannon native believed. “Anytime you play against those guys you will learn, every team is in the same position, they’re trying to learn as much as they can, those guys don’t seem to be going backwards. They’ve so much competition, even looking at Ard Scoil Rís and the power they had, they are doing a lot of things right in Limerick”.

Clare needed a pre-season runout, Lohan acknowledged. “To get the pre-season, it was good to get it in this year and try get a bit of work done because we certainly need it, this year once is starts it comes thick and fast, we have the five league matches and then very little of a break between it followed by four championship matches in five weeks”.

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