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John Conlon in action against Aidan Walsh, Shane O'Neill and Mark Ellis of Cork in Thurles. Photograph by John Kelly.

Banner are ‘raring to go’

THE recently concluded national hurling league didn’t go too well for Clare but, that said, they could have qualified for the knock-out stage of the competition. That’s all in the past now and all involved are just looking forward to what is ahead.
A key member of team, John Conlon acknowledges there are “big expectations in Limerick” but added, “we have big expectations ourselves”.
“We let ourselves down last year, which is a worry. We can’t dwell on the past. Yes we had a great win over Dublin. We lost narrowly to Kilkenny, a game we could have won and we don’t like moral victories. All we need now is to ensure we get over the line on Sunday,” the Clonlara man told The Clare Champion
“We can’t afford to look past Limerick and that’s the way we have approached things this year, taking it a game at a time. Right now, we are looking at Limerick and looking at how we might get past them. Everything comes right for championship for all teams. I know we will be right and it will be the best team that will get over the line,” he noted.
Regarding last year’s campaign, he stated, “It was very disappointing but we were a bit unlucky at times with the way things went. If we had got past Wexford, anything might have happened. Limerick have been one of the form championship teams of the last three or four years. They are normally slow starters but they turn it around for the championship. We know what it is going to be like in Thurles and we are just looking forward to it.
“The league and championship are totally different. We got a few days off after the relegation game with Kilkenny. Training has been hard since we resumed and we are all just raring to go. This is championship time, weather is improving, touch is improving and everyone is getting ready for summer hurling.”
Before getting away from the recently concluded league, he noted that Waterford, winners of the title, had come from Division 1 B, where Clare will play their league hurling next season.
“In fairness to the management team, everything is on track to be right. There have been one or two injuries but they seem to be clearing up. Everything is being done and has been done to help those with injuries to be ready in time.”
Asked about the absence of Clonlara clubmate Colm Galvin, Conlon said, “Colm talked about going to the US for the past few years. It’s something he always wanted to do and he said that to me before last year’s campaign commenced. It was his own decision and he was comfortable with it. No one has any problem with that. A lot of young people want to travel and we don’t have an issue with it. It opens up a place for another member of the panel. We have a good squad of 36 or 38 and all are well capable of filling in; that’s what we have panels for. Look at our game against Kilkenny, when Conor McGrath got an injury. It shakes you for a minute but lads get on with it. That’s what there is a panel for. Players train hard for six or seven months to be right. We are looking forward to the game but we won’t know until we go inside the white lines if we have got it right.”
Conlon accepts there is great rivalry between the counties. “Being from Clonlara, I am only down the road and just across the river from Castleconnell and Ahane. That’s part and parcel of the whole thing. You love to hear the banter and have a bit of fun with your Limerick friends. I know Limerick will come to Thurles well prepared and we will travel well prepared and everything points to a great occasion.”

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