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Aaron Cunningham: ‘I have a mountain to climb to get on team’. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Aaron Cunningham: ‘I have a mountain to climb to get on team’. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Aaron Cunningham: ‘I have a mountain to climb to get on team’. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

He may not play a part for at least a few weeks as he gets his touch back up to scratch but Aaron Cunningham has provided Brian Lohan with a welcome boost having returned to the Clare fold for 2020.

Last seen in the Clare colours when netting two goals in their 2017 All-Ireland SHC quarter-final defeat to Tipperary, the Wolfe Tones forward has returned home from a spell travelling and has committed to the Banner once again.

A clubmate of Lohan's in Shannon, Cunningham increases Clare's attacking options having rejoined the squad last month but with two years away from the inter-county game, the 26-year-old is likely to take some time to find his feet.

Part of the 2013 All-Ireland-winning squad, the secondary school teacher is a proven goalscorer but he admitted that he wasn't sure if his inter-county career would be resurrected until a surprise call came from Lohan.

"Part of me was saying I had my shot and it had passed. Coming home this Christmas I wasn't sure if I'd stick around but a few things fell into place and I decided I'd stay around for a while," Cunningham recently told the 'Clare Echo'.

"When the opportunity came I thought it was a good time being a bit older to give it a lash and see if I was able for it and if I could contribute anything. Brian being Brian would entice anyone in.

"Growing up watching him and listening to him, he is one of the heroes of Clare hurling; to have him at the top job is exciting for everyone, you always want to see someone who has lived it and done it. He didn't have to say too much.

"I was surprised more than anything that he was willing to have a shot on me and give me a chance, as soon as the option came I had to grab it with two hands.

"I have a mountain to climb if I'm going to be anywhere near inter-county hurling this year. They have a serious pre-season done and are two months ahead of where I'm at without having taken the years off.

"I'm way off the mark at the moment but I can see a big improvement so hopefully I can keep going that way and maybe towards the end of the league I might get a look in."

Another player who has already made an inter-county return is 2015 All-Ireland-winning camogie captain Ashling Thompson, who commenced action with Cork last weekend having missed out in 2019.

Thompson played no part in Paudie Murray's championship side last year but the 29-year-old fired two points in their opening round league defeat of Waterford in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Saturday night.

The Milford midfielder was a notable absentee as Cork lost their grip on the O'Duffy Cup last year and the four-time All-Ireland winner is a huge addition as they look to dethrone reigning champions Galway later this season.

Irish Independent