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Ger O'Loughlin backs Banner to bounce back

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Ger O'Loughlin

Ger O'Loughlin

SPORTSFILE

Ger O'Loughlin

GER 'Sparrow' O'Loughlin, the former Clare player and manager, is backing Davy Fitzgerald's side to haul themselves out of the doldrums, starting with Tipperary on Sunday.

O'Loughlin's main focus is on St Patrick's Day and the All-Ireland club final between his Kilmallock side and Ballyhale Shamrocks, but he also maintains a keen interest in the Clare county scene.

He admits to some concerns at the sluggish start, with defeats against Galway and Cork leaving the Banner rooted at the bottom of the Division 1A table. However, Sunday's visit of All-Ireland finalists Tipperary to Cusack Park in Ennis, offers new hope.

"The Clare situation at the moment is a small bit of a worry in that we haven't gathered a whole lot of momentum yet.

"It's early days and last year we managed to win a couple of the games and it probably didn't do us any favours later on.

"We are getting the wake-up call earlier this year. I think there is a fantastic group of players there.

"They have everything at their disposal, so I'd be surprised if we don't give it a good rattle and get back to winning ways along the way," said O'Loughlin.

Tipperary have something to prove as well, following defeat to Dublin and then grabbing a win over Galway, so everything is set for a full-blooded encounter between two sides badly in need of a victory.

"Now, the league mightn't be great for us, but we have the game on Sunday against Tipperary, and that's going to be a game that will definitely show us where we are at.

"Tipp aren't going that well either, even though they've had that win over Galway.

"I've seen Tipp a couple of times this year, and they look like a team that's priming themselves for the Championship more than anything else.

"It's going to be important for Clare to get off the bottom of the ladder and get a bit of momentum going.

"They have a very good panel of players now and it would be a pity if they didn't produce something this year," he said.

The 'ifs', 'buts' and 'maybes' of Clare's first two matches are of no consequence, other than talking points at the bar or on GAA chat forums, and in O'Loughlin's view, there are a number of possibilities in how best to utilise the league ahead of the big games in Championship fare.

"We are finding it hard to get a win under the belt, but in saying that, over the last number of years different counties have adopted different attitudes towards the league. I think in this case with Clare, they are not panicking about it," he said

O'Loughlin believes that the most important consideration is that there be no undue anxiety whipped up within the Banner County at this early stage of the 2015 campaign, particularly given the talent in the squad.

"If we could get the win on Sunday, it would create a good buzz, get the train back on the track and then set us up for the last game or two of the league," he said.

On the broader front, O'Loughlin welcomed the one-on-one penalty rule, saying:

"It's worth introducing."

Irish Independent