Clare hurling boss Brian Lohan has echoed his Waterford counterpart Liam Cahill on the decision to limit substitutions to five for this year’s championship.
The GAA had allowed seven substitutions to be made in league games but have now reverted to five. Clare face Waterford this Sunday in the opening round of the Munster senior hurling championship but Lohan was in agreement with Cahill's comments last Tuesday: “Because championship is so intense, so rapid-fire, I think the majority of managers around the country would have been in favour of retaining the seven substitutions. I know I would have.”
Speaking today, Lohan said: “On the seven substitutions, I was listening to (Kerry football manager) Peter Keane the other day, and what he was saying about it made a lot of sense.
“He pointed out that a lot of teams have picked up soft tissue injuries in what has been a condensed national league.
“I think he and Liam are right - the way the game has gone now, it takes so much out of fellas physically and mentally that a couple of extra substitutions would be no harm at all, particularly when the championship is more intense again than the league.
“It is what it is now and we’ll all have to get on with the rules as they are, but having said that I’d be in favour of keeping that option of seven subs for the championship.”
Lohan must plan without 2013 All-Ireland hat-trick hero Shane O’Donnell and defender Aaron Fitzgerald, but is hopeful of David McInerney being available for Sunday’s clash with Waterford.
“Shane is out, he’s gone for the weekend.
“He got a concussion before the Kilkenny game so obviously we have to abide by the return to play protocols, and he’s not ready to come back, so that’s it. Concussion is obviously a very serious matter now and we abide by those rules.
“Aaron Fitzgerald is also out, he got a bad belt in the game against Kilkenny and hasn’t recovered, so we’ll have to plan without him as well.
“David McInerney came off injured in the first half of the Kilkenny game but we haven’t made a decision on him yet for the weekend, we’re hoping he’ll be fit to play.” Earlier this week Liam Cahill said he and Lohan would be judged in this year’s championship on their progress, given both are now second-year managers.
“Absolutely,” said Lohan.
“Liam and Waterford probably surpassed all expectations the way they went last year in the championship, the only team that beat them were the eventual All-Ireland champions.
“Looking at them this year I would say they’ve progressed, they’ve gotten some very good results in the league, particularly against Limerick and Tipperary - you’d have to be impressed with how they’ve performed so far, certainly.” Clare themselves overcame early defeats to hit form as the league wound down, with a dramatic win over Kilkenny in their final game of the competition the ideal preparation for the championship.
“I suppose any day you play against Kilkenny you get a good gauge of where your own team is, where you’re going,” said Lohan.
“It was a good performance from us and ended the league well for us, but we would have targeted that game for a performance from a long way out - when Kilkenny come to Ennis it’s always a big day in the calendar.
“Against Dublin and Laois we also played well and picked up wins, so you could say we’ve been improving ever since we lost the first day out against Antrim.”