Tuesday 20 March 2018

O'Donnell keen to draw a line under challenging 2014

Shane O'Donnell
Shane O'Donnell
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Louis Walsh didn't ring after all, no model agency presented contract forms to sign, parents stopped naming babies after him and the crowds drawn to him eventually dispersed.

In the immediate aftermath of Sunday evening, albeit at a Galway venue, only a few sought his signature or a photograph. Over the last 12 months, Shane O'Donnell's life has returned to a little more normality.

It was always going to be that way once the storm of what he did in the 2013 All-Ireland hurling final replay abated. Sunday marked O'Donnell's returns to competitive action with Clare for the first time in over 10-and-a-half months.

Not since he bagged two goals in a league quarter-final against Laois at the end of last March had he hurled for his county.

A persistent hamstring injury ruled him out of the semi-final defeat to Cork and all three championship matches against Cork and Wexford (twice) in June and July.

For O'Donnell, the lights of 2013 dimmed quicker than he might have anticipated.

But that little cameo just after half-time when he scorched the Galway rearguard to set up John Conlon with a clever reverse pass for a point before showing an equally blistering turn of pace to score himself as Clare hit the front in their opening Division 1A league match in Pearse Stadium was a sign that power can quickly be restored to his illuminating game.

"Things started to come together for me at the start of the second half," he said. "It is just fantastic to be back on the pitch, a fantastic feeling to be on the right side of the white lines again.

"I was happy enough, but there were three balls there towards the end of the second half that I should have been getting on top of and ultimately it cost us."

A few weeks after the 2013 All-Ireland final replay, O'Donnell himself had predicted a difficult follow-up year, but not in the way that those difficulties manifested themselves.

He expected the extra attention, he envisaged a potential dip in form but for brittle hamstrings to sideline him completely was never part of any script.

"I was getting set for a great year last year and then everything fell apart close to championship time, but that stuff happens. If I stay injury-free for the rest of this year, that is all I am looking for," he said.


He has worked exceptionally hard on improving the strength of his hamstrings in the off-season.

"I have done massive work on my hamstrings. Any time I get a week off I am doing two or three days trying to build up them even more," he said.

"I know what is weak at this stage. Hopefully nothing else will crop up that will keep me out but the hamstrings at the moment are feeling very strong."

Clare's defeat puts instant pressure on them in Division 1A but O'Donnell feels they are on the right track.

"You are always going to be disappointed with a loss, but the first 10 minutes apart we worked as hard as we could on a tough field and in a hostile enough environment," he said.

Irish Independent

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