Clare hurler David Reidy had a rather robust — certainly, unorthodox — first encounter with new Banner manager Brian Lohan.
Back in November 2016, University of Limerick, managed by Lohan, met Limerick Institute of Technology, for whom Reidy was midfield, in a third-level fixture.
UL were in a huddle when LIT, wound up to the nth degree by their manager Davy Fitzgerald, almost broke down the dressing-room door in storming out onto the St Patrick’s pitch in Limerick city. Reidy admits to getting a bit over excited and next thing he knows, he’s in amongst the UL players. Best to let the man himself take it from here.
“There was a shoulder or two, to the UL lads in the huddle. I was turning around and, all of a sudden, I just got a hand onto my neck. I looked up and it was Lohan himself. But once he put his hand on me, your natural reaction is to throw your hand back up onto his.
“Holy war broke out. It was basically a 30-man on 30-man brawl. So that was my first introduction to Brian Lohan,” Reidy, wearing a broad grin, recalls. "It’s kind of a natural reaction. If someone puts their hand onto you, what do you do? You’re either going to crawl away or you’re going to fight.”
The 26-year old, who took a year out from inter-county hurling in 2019, is part of Lohan’s panel for the season ahead and the pair had a good chuckle at their antics from that evening three years ago.
“We’re two big boys at this stage. We had a bit of craic when I came into the panel, we laughed about it. But Brian is a professional man in all walks of life – so we’re on speaking terms! We’re only back training three weeks, but Brian has really put his stamp on things. We’re training nearly like the way he played the game.”
Having opted to concentrate on a marketing and management Masters in LIT this past year, Reidy is re-energised by his time away.
“It would have been November, 12 months ago, when I opted out. The course was full-time, I was playing full-time hurling with the county, and then I was [working a] part-time job. Something had to give. Unfortunately, hurling was the unlucky one. The Masters was looking after my future and the part-time job was basically keeping food on the table.”
The body was 100%. It was more of a mental break, as well, and one that did me a world of good. Now, I did have conversations with the managers in the earlier part of this year – up until March or April.
He knew he was taking a risk in walking - and staying - away. There was no guarantee the Éire Óg clubman, who didn’t manage to elicit an inter-county call-up, at any grade, until his second year of U21 in 2013, would be invited back into the fold for a campaign which gets underway this Sunday with a Munster SHL fixture away to Tipperary (Nenagh, 2pm).
“On game-day, I was like ‘Oh, I’d love to be out there’. But I knew what it took pre-season, to put the hard yards in, to get out there. And, to be honest, I wasn’t driven enough to do it.
“Everyone has their own opinions when you take a year out on your own behalf. Are you going to get called back in? You’re in a privileged situation when you put on a Clare jersey, and it probably was a big gamble [stepping away].
“Going back playing club championship, I knew then that’s what I wanted to do - to go back hurling with Clare.”
He was critical of the period of time the county board took in appointing a new manager.
“It was to drawn out. In terms of the players, they were left in the dark. They were finding out what was going on from media stories. Brian rang me a week after he was announced as Clare manager.
“He knew I was finished the Masters (Reidy has since taken up employment in the LIT marketing office). He asked me was I interested in coming into the panel. 100%, yes, I wanted to come back in.
“It’s tough on a dark, wet evening to go training, but I’m loving driving back to Clare for training.”