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Banner's Kelly targets two-in-a-row


Tony Kelly. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Tony Kelly. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Tony Kelly. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

HURLER of the Year Tony Kelly has revealed the next tantalising target that will drive on Clare in 2014: the familiar GAA mantra that a team can only lay claim to greatness by winning a second All-Ireland title.

Davy Fitzgerald's gifted young tyros achieved their first All-Ireland ahead of schedule in a classic final replay against Cork last September, prompting predictions of a brave new hurling world, dominated by the Banner.

But Kelly, only recently turned 20, insists they have a long way to go before hoping to rival the modern hurling benchmark, Kilkenny.

"Any good team wins an All-Ireland," he said, "but if you look at Kilkenny they were branded a great team because they kept winning All-Irelands year after year. It was the same with Cork in the early 2000s.

"We won't be regarded anywhere near a great team unless we win a (second) All-Ireland and that's something we're striving to do and very much have a focus on doing."

A more pressing concern for Kelly, after a season where the collective and individual plaudits rained down upon him, is getting back to business on the training ground.

The Clare panel touched down from their team holiday to Mexico and the US last Sunday, and their young talisman admitted: "People say that the break isn't too long but personally I can't wait to get back into action and, from speaking to a few of the lads, they're the same way."

However, Kelly is not overly concerned at Clare having to play training ground catch-up, saying: "Other teams were out of the championship before us.

"We were hurling up until September 28 – really that was October – so maybe we won't have lost that much fitness between September and December.

"I suppose they've maybe a four- or five-week head start on us, so we won't be long getting that sharpness and fitness in January and February."