If he’s sick of hearing about 2014, he hides it well. Colin Ryan collected an All-Ireland senior hurling medal with Clare in 2013 but last season the Banner couldn’t raise a gallop.
This year is a chance to get back on the horse, but Sunday’s Munster championship opponents will have their own view on that.
“Limerick have been very consistent the last couple of years, and that’s something we’ve looked at and wanted to improve upon ourselves. We want to put ourselves in that position, to involve ourselves in games at the right time of the year, and Limerick’s record in the Munster championship is far better than ours in the last 10 years or so.
“They didn’t get up out of Division 1B but that doesn’t seem to have done them any damage when it comes to the Munster championship, certainly. Add in the success of Kilmallock in the club championship as well.” So what happened to Clare last year?
“We’re not Kilkenny, who seem to have it down to a tee,” said Ryan. “We’re not used to doing that every year. Would we have changed what we did? We probably wouldn’t, but we’d be more prepared.
“Mentally and physically, fatigue probably set in. We were going to the end of September (2013) and then we had a full club championship after that; then it was the end of November.
“It’s hard to judge. We took it upon ourselves to take the league really seriously, to try our best, and it might have been in our best interests to lighten off a small bit, but we didn’t.
“Decision were made and we were all happy with them at the time. Things just didn’t work out, we got a small bit flat and we didn’t do ourselves justice.” This year’s league ended in relegation, but Ryan saw green shoot in their last two outings, against Kilkenny.
“The performances in the last two games spoke volumes for the players, the way we came together and worked hard for one another. It’s levelled off so much that almost every team could win the All-Ireland.
“I suppose not much would be read into the Kilkenny performances, and not much will be read into them come the end of the year, but we needed performances to go in the right direction.
“And during the league those performances were going in the right direction - the results weren’t going our way, but the league probably served its purpose.”
Their success at All-Ireland U21 level is another boost, he says.
“When we’re long gone hopefully that legacy will continue. We don’t want Biddy Early spells to go on that long again. We’re fierce proud, and with the U21s coming along and being successful, it’s great to see.
“You can’t guarantee anything but hopefully it shows they can be successful - they’re confident hurlers and that confidence comes through at senior level.
“We’re not guaranteed anything but we’d hope to do ourselves justice. If you do that, you won’t be far away.”
Ryan is keen to move past the early-season controversy over the departure of Nicky O’Connell and Davy O’Halloran from the panel, particularly with O’Connell’s return.
“Our performances show how tight we are as a unit. We made our statement. We set ourselves high standards and we live or die by those. Things were said, things were done and we’re happy to move forward as a group.
“Nicky’s a great lad. He came back, Davy’s as fair as anything - he offered to take him back and he came back with no qualms. He’s worked his way back in and there’s nothing to say Nicky won’t see action against Limerick.”
They’ve lost Colm Galvin to the States for a year. Ryan says they’d take him back in the morning, but adds: “He’s young and when these lads come onto the scene so young, it’s hard for them to devote every hour they have to hurling, when they could turn around at 30 and say, ‘I’ve never been to America’. “We wish him well. The worst thing he could do would be not to go if he wanted to, staying around would be worse in that case. Only time will tell how he gets on but if he comes back, he’d be welcomed back in.
“The likes of Tony Kelly, they’re as happy not to go (to America). I’d say to them to go and live their lives, it’s not the end of the world. There’s life after hurling and there’s life before hurling.
“You must make the decision that’s right for yourself.”
Judging by Ryan, Clare will be keen to make amends for 2014 come Sunday afternoon: “It was fierce disappointing last year, there’s no two ways about it. We’re looking forward to getting back into championship and getting a win under our belt.”
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