Brian Lohan: ‘We probably weren’t punished as badly as we could have been’

Brian Lohan was delighted Clare received some respite from their “nearly team” tag having lost the two previous All-Ireland semi-finals to Kilkenny.

Only their second time beating The Cats in championship after the 1997 All-Ireland semi-final success, the manager didn’t say there were doubts in the camp after but there was an onus to get it right at the third time of asking.

“I suppose there is pressure associated with that,” said Lohan, who admitted the side’s first-half performance was disappointing. “You don’t want to be the nearly guy or the nearly team all the time. So there is pressure but it’s about dealing with that.

“You can’t get overexcited about that, you still have to make good decisions and you have to try to do what you know that you’re good at and try to make good decisions on the ball. We just didn’t do that. Probably weren’t let do that.

“But look, the game is over 70 minutes, it’s not over 35 minutes and you have an opportunity to reset and change things and we did that and our players responded and we’re delighted with our players.” He continued: “We know that Kilkenny are a good team but we came up thinking we’re better. There was that pressure – to lose three in a row up here, on the back of three in a row in Munster – but sometimes you just get fed up and it has to stop some time. Things turn around when you work hard and our lads work hard.” 

Lohan admitted Kilkenny didn’t hurt Clare as much as they probably deserved for that abject first-half display. “We had an awful lot of work done and to play as poorly as that in the first-half, like, we probably weren’t punished as badly as we could have been punished in that first half.

“But look, there was an awful amount of frustration but we did rally in that second-half and our big guys stood up. You get that from working hard and we have worked really hard over a long period of time.

“Sometimes it’s just a case of enough is enough, we have to respond, we have to give our supporters something to cheer about. We can’t let them down again.” Lohan acknowledged the contribution made by his substitutes, in particular Ryan Taylor making his first appearance since this game last year when he tore his cruciate.

“Yeah, look, Ryan came in there and he has got that serious amount of pace to be able to break the line which is, in inter-county hurling, the biggest thing is…I suppose pace and skill are the biggest things and he has that so he gave us a good boost.

“(Aron) Shan(agher) gave us a good boost and Ian Galvin has been giving us a good boost all year. It’s very frustrating for Ian as well that he’s not making the team but look, he has shown great leadership within the group and he always responds for us so we’re delighted with Ian.” 

Lohan felt the Billy Ryan goal and Eoin Murphy’s denial of Aidan McCarthy was against the run of play. “It was two sucker punches, really. The Eoin Murphy save from Aidan McCarthy was a big potential turning point but in fairness to our lads they showed a bit of resilience and maturity and got a point, got the next point and the next point. They played the game based on the next ball.

“Kilkenny didn’t score from the 58th minute on, so we reeled off six points in a row.”

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