Ger Loughnane: Clare proved Kilkenny are not superheroes... they are flesh and blood
There was no man more relieved that Ger Loughnane to see Clare put Kilkenny to the sword in clinical fashion yesterday.
The reigning All-Ireland champions were steamrolled 4-22 to 1-19 in Thurles by the Banner yesterday as Davy Fitzgerald's men booked a place in this year's Division One final with Waterford.
The former Clare manager, who led the Banner to a pair of All-Ireland titles in the 1990s, recently insisted that there was "no way" Kilkenny should be aiming to win a third All-Ireland in a row in 2016 given the talent at their disposal.
A number of past and present Kilkenny stars came out in the media to rebuke Loughnane's assertions in recent weeks but that did not manifest itself on the field yesterday.
Former Offaly star Michael Duignan described it as 'beyond belief'.
Writing in the Irish Daily Star today, Loughnane insisted that the result should give heart to team lining up against the three on the trot chasing Cats this summer.
"What Clare's win showed is that Kilkenny aren't superheroes. They are human. They are flesh and blood. They are beatable," he wrote.
"Hopefully, now, commentators, players and managers won't be as spooked by Kilkenny's aura.
"Don't get me wrong, Kilkenny could still win this year's All-Ireland.
"But too many teams see Brian Cody on the sideline and his men in black and amber and effectively give up the ghost.
"People's judgement has been clouded by Kilkenny winning back-to-back All-Irelands in 2014 and 2015.
"They are a very honest team, but they are vulnerable too.
"Clare showed that, with the right attitude and approach, they can be exposed."