By John Fallon
Shane O’Donnell will be back in a Clare jersey far sooner than envisaged with confirmation that the 2013 All-Ireland final hero will be lining out for the Banner County in the Aer Lingus Fenway Hurling Classic in Boston on Sunday.
O’Donnell has moved to the United States after being awarded a prestigious year-long Fulbright Scholarship to Harvard University and is set to miss Clare’s national league campaign.
The 24-year old, who graduated with a degree in Genetics from UCC, is continuing his studies at the renowned university in Boston but remains firmly in the plans of Clare joint managers Gerry O’Connor and Donal Moloney.
It is expected he will be back in plenty of time for the start of the championship next year and joint manager Moloney has confirmed that O’Donnell will be part of their squad this coming weekend when they defend their Super 11s title at Fenway Park in Boston.
“Yes, he will be playing with us this weekend, which is great. He’s only over there for about six months. He went five or six weeks ago so it’s great to link up again.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for him to study over there and from speaking to him he loves it, he’s really immersed himself into it.
“I think in terms of his career as a research scientist it is really important for him and will really set him for his life after hurling as well and players have to consider that at all times as well,” said Moloney.
Clare, who defeated Galway in the Fenway Hurling Classic final last year, will be bringing a strong squad to Boston but will be without Conor Cleary and Aidan McGuane, both of whom are on the Milltown Malbay team which has qualified for the Munster senior club football final for the first time.
Moloney said they want to defend their crown in Fenway Park on Sunday, not least as they found participating in it last year to be quite helpful in their preparations for the 2018 season.
“Last year, at the end of 2017, it was a privilege to be asked to participate in it and we used it to the maximum. We had a mixed year from a hurling perspective in league and championship and found it great to be able to bring the squad away together like that.
“For some of our lads last year was their first time in the States, so you put all that together and it was a real uplifting experience and one that was often mentioned subsequently throughout the season so we are really looking forward to going back,” added Moloney.
Clare will begin the defence of their Aer Lingus Fenway Hurling Classic title with a semi-final meeting with Munster champions Cork, while in the other semi-final All-Ireland champions Limerick will take on Wexford. All of the matches will be broadcast live by TG4, starting at 5.30pm Irish time on Sunday.