It’s almost 25 years since Brian Lohan won the first of his two All-Ireland senior medals with Clare, yet the legendary full-back shows no signs of losing his abrasive edge.
At Croke Park yesterday for the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Legends Tours, the iconic defender refused to take a backward step when criticising his county board, former team-mate Davy Fitzgerald, and the Tipperary team that Clare will face on Sunday.
Lohan, to be precise, said that while Tipp are going well, they “still have a couple of questions to answer” and he wondered if they can “produce it on the big day, particularly against Kilkenny”.
He singled out Tipperary’s in-form forward John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer and queried if he was put up against a tight marker from Kilkenny later on in the championship, would he ‘be able to do what he’s been doing for the first two matches”.
Time will tell, but Lohan’s most cutting analysis was reserved for former team-mate, Fitzgerald. The pair, Clare’s last lines of defence when they dominated the mid-1990s with two All-Ireland wins, fell out after a row in 2014 when managing against each other in the Fitzgibbon Cup.
Fitzgerald also felt that Lohan had been unnecessarily critical of him while the Sixmilebridge man was in charge of Clare, requesting an independent review of Clare hurling at one point.
“It’d be fair to say we’d fallen out big time,” wrote Fitzgerald in his book, published last year. Speaking yesterday about their relationship, Lohan said: “I don’t have anything to say about him to be honest.”
Asked about the relationships generally between his former team-mates from the 1990s, Lohan responded that they’re good, though he indicated he doesn’t speak with one player in particular.
Fitzgerald is currently in charge of Wexford and has guided them to two draws in this year’s Leinster SHC. He was sent to the stand during last weekend’s draw with Galway and Lohan was asked by a reporter yesterday if Fitzgerald’s passion was genuine or for show.
“I don’t know if it’s genuine passion,” said Lohan. “We’re all passionate about the game, but we don’t... we show it in different ways. He has the way he does things and people have to kind of fit into that, but I think some of the antics, they’re not great.”
As for the Clare county board, Lohan accused them of not being ‘dynamic’ enough and lacking a level of professionalism.
“There’s great clubs. There’s really good people involved at both club level and at county level,” he said. “Sometimes, I think they’re a bit let down by the county board. The county board needs to be more dynamic. I think they need to be... like, the county board’s business is big business now.
"I think you have to have that level of professionalism within that structure to get the most out of, you know, to assist the teams and get the most out of the county teams. I don’t know if that’s there.”
Former UL manager Lohan was asked if he’d thought about managing his county at some stage in the future.
“I haven’t really thought about it, not with the present county board,” he replied.
Lohan didn’t stick it to Tipperary in quite the same terms, though his comments about their chances beyond Munster may not go down well in Liam Sheedy’s camp, this week of all weeks.
Stating that he believes Cork are a good shout for this year’s All-Ireland, Lohan added: “If you’re one of those other teams, you’d be worried about Kilkenny as well.
Obviously, Tipp are going well, but Tipp still have a couple of questions to answer.
“I suppose to produce it on the big day, particularly against Kilkenny. They’ve had good teams on paper, better teams, but they haven’t been able to beat Kilkenny. They can beat them, they have beaten them, but I just wonder if ‘Bubbles’ is on a Kilkenny corner-back, that Kilkenny corner-back won’t be giving him space.
"You just wonder will ‘Bubbles’ be able to do what he’s been doing for the first two matches. John McGrath will be alright, but you just wonder about that Tipperary forward line, would they be able to keep creating that kind of space? Particularly as you get later into the championship and people are looking at them and there’s more analysis being done on them.”