ON Monday evening, Clare GAA moved a step closer to end the fears of supporters when Clare County Board Officers agreed that Brian Lohan be offered a three-year term as senior hurling manager.
The two-time All-Ireland SHC winner had the option of another season in his current agreement, however, the board officials have moved to retain his services for two more seasons into 2024.
The recommendation must now be approved by a full meeting of Clare County Board, but Lohan is content with the decision made on Monday evening.
“I’m happy to get the three years. I appreciate there is loads of hard work to do. I’m looking forward to get to work. Hopefully the clubs will allow me to continue working with the team. I know how important it is for the clubs to have their say but it’s a step in the right direction.”
Despite much scrutiny and media speculation Lohan says that the County Board needed to assess their options in the aftermath of Clare’s Championship exit this summer.
“The Board had to look at things from their perspective. They had things they had to sign off on so they had to do that. I was looking at things from my perspective. The process was the process at the end of the day.”
The former All-Ireland winner states he hasn’t focused on whether or not he will add to his backroom team just yet as he waited for news about whether he would be offered a new deal.
“I haven’t been focusing on that side of things yet. We can do our work behind the scenes when the time is right.” When asked if he is preparing for 2022 after this year’s Championship culminated last Sunday, the former Clare defender says that the workload is an “ongoing process”.
“In the job it’s an ongoing process. There is no real end and start dates. You are always thinking what new players can we bring in. We are constantly trying to evolve the panel and team. We want to improve on our strong and weak areas too, whether it be Strength and Conditioning or nutrition, we are always trying to evolve.”
Peter Duggan’s return from Australia to line out with Clooney/Quin was one of the most notable features of the opening round of Clare SHC action with the All Star slotting in seamlessly.
“It’s good to see him back playing again. Any player not in the panel and making a statement is always of interest. We are always looking to boost the panel so we are keeping an eye and hoping that a lot of players can put their hands up in the next few months with their clubs.”
The former All-Ireland winning hurler admits the backing he has received from the Clare players and the public was an important factor in him deciding to put his name forward for three more years at the helm.
“The backing is crucial. You want people especially the players to understand what you do and the ideas you have. It is very important to have that backing. Without that, I wouldn’t be looking to continue in the job.
“You need the players to support you because if you try stay on without them wanting you, well you can try but you are going nowhere.”
After producing a ferocious display to beat Waterford, Clare suffered some near misses, most notably falling to an agonising two point defeat against eventual All Ireland finalists Cork.
“You look back on the action this year and it was intense. When we played Cork, that was our fourth game out in five weeks. That was off the back of a league where we played four times in five weeks so it was demanding. The majority of players performed to a really good level and we were happy with the attitude shown.”
“With that Cork game, there were one or two lads not at the level they were at in previous weeks. We were a little unlucky with the draw where we were thrown straight in after losing the Munster semi final.
“You have to be on your game every week but we have tried to take lessons from it.”
The former UL manager believes that S+C has become a vital part of every GAA team, club and county, as he seeks to further improve the team’s conditioning next year.
“The areas we focused on last year gone by was fitness and conditioning. We improved on those areas but that’s an area we are focusing on going forward too. It’s an ongoing process. The area of S+C is massive.”
With Limerick producing a masterful display when downing Cork in last Sunday’s All Ireland final, the former Clare defender knows his side have work to do to catch up with John Kiely’s all conquering outfit.
“There are a lot of teams around the same level and then they are ahead of everyone else right now. Sometimes you can read too much into a final, but they were very good all through the Championship. Cork were probably not as good as they needed to be. They were a bit flat, and things didn’t go as well as they would have hoped for.”
“Limerick got everything spot on. They have invested a lot of time and resources. They have a great set of players and backroom team. Their structures are exceptional, and they have set the standard at the moment.”
Lohan wants to help Clare progress further next year with the ultimate goal of seeing this crop of players playing at GAA HQ.
“The big hope if we get the support of the clubs is to try and improve the team.
“We want to be getting the maximum performance out of the lads week in week out, try win games and avoid the back door route if we can. Everyone wants to be playing in Croke Park so hopefully we can do that going forward.”
by Ivan Smyth