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All calm in the Lyons’ den

LEARNING by losing can harden a team trying desperately to win. As long as they don’t keep losing, never turning the hurt of it all into championship winning armour, it can be the making of a group of eventual winners. Clare’s heroic men of ’95 and ’97 were the whipping boys of ’93 and ’94 before they swapped the dank silence of a beaten dressing room for the back-slapping on offer down the corridor. On the evening of July 31, 2008 several of the Clare U-21s that will sprint onto Croke Park next Sunday, had a Munster medal snapped from their palm. The injustice of it all could have finished them yet maybe it has helped make those who are eligible again this year. “A small bit of adversity is good test of character but I suppose, the difficulty of playing U-21 is some guys don’t get a second chance,” Clare U-21 coach Cyril Lyons reflected. “There were six lads …

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It started from the ground up for Clonlara

THE great success enjoyed by Clonlara GAA Club over the past two years, in particular, together with the march of the Clare U-21s to the All-Ireland final has turned the spotlight very much on the South-East Clare club. While the club has, over the years, provided some great players for county sides, they have never had as many on a county team at the one time.

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Slipping away from the favourites’ mantle

LIKE most Kilkenny inter-county hurlers, Michael Walsh has been part of a number of title-winning teams. The son of the legendary Ollie, the team’s outstanding goalkeeper in the ‘60s, Michael followed in his father’s footsteps and played at all grades for the Noresiders.There is one medal missing for the Kilkenny U-21 manager’s collection, however. “I played in two All-Ireland U-21 finals but we lost both,” he said as he looked ahead to Sunday’s All-Ireland U-21 final date with Clare when he will be hoping to manage Kilkenny to a second successive title at this level.

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Tuohy has moved on from controversial 65’

IT isn’t even Donal Tuohy’s last year playing U-21 but the grade has already provided him with more pronounced highs and darker lows than many hurlers see in their careers.It may have been the single most dramatic incident of the 2008 GAA summer. With the Munster U-21 final on a knife edge, a quick puck-out from Tuohy found Patrick Kelly and the subsequent Clare attack yielded a free just 20 metres from the Tipp goal.

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The dawn of a new era in Clare hurling?

EXPECTATIONS soared in Clare about the prospect of winning more All-Ireland hurling titles back in September 1997. The county was basking in glory after the senior and minor inter-county sides combined to win the first All-Ireland double on the one day.It looked as if a new era had dawned for Clare hurling and fans were confident that travelling to Croke Park for All-Ireland finals would be a far more regular occurrence.

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Seán aiming to reap rewards against Kilkenny

Selector Seán O’Halloran doesn’t bat an eyelid nor does he pass any apologies. He’s strong on the reward culture. That’s why Clare has yet to field the same team two days running in the championship.His thinking gives an insight into that of the entire management team. Players on form are rewarded with places. It’s a good policy in that it keeps people on their toes, training is kept fresh and players are kept guessing. Nothing is a foregone conclusion.

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Minor heroes welcomed home

SOUTH Galway was well represented on this year’s All-Ireland minor hurling title winning panel and it represented itself well for the team’s homecoming too. Despite the miserable weather, hundreds of people ranging from infant to octogenarian, stood in Gort’s Square on Monday night to welcome back their triumphant heroes. From half seven, they trickled onto the street, seeking shelter in doorways and under umbrellas and as dusk fell on the town, the stream of people had swelled to more than 1,500.Like many others present, Phil Madden has no connections with the players on the team. She stood in the rain to honour their achievement and that of the management team.“It is brilliant to win another minor title,” she said, “Mattie Murphy is great. He is so successful in his training.” Bernie Connolly had a more personal interest in enduring the elements. She had travelled to Dublin the day before to watch the game so coming a short distance into The …

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