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Lohan return likely to hit Dubs where it hurts

DUBLIN'S hopes of bouncing back from last weekend's opening round defeat by Galway have been dented with the news that Clare's star full-back Brian Lohan is set to return for Sunday's showdown in Ennis.

A hamstring injury kept Lohan out of the the win over Laois, but he revealed last night that he expects to be available for the clash with Humphrey Kelleher's charges.

"It's just a twinge, and it's something which generally troubles me at this time of the year," said Lohan.

"I have been getting treatment, and there has been a considerable improvement since it first flared up. So I'm optimistic that I'd be able to get through a match on Sunday."

Conor Harrison deputised well in the No 3 jersey against Laois but Lohan said there was little significance attached to the Banner County's 3-14 to 1-11 winning margin. "Laois were missing four regulars, including centre-back Paul Cuddy, and it's very difficult for any team to cope with that situation," he explained.

Meanwhile, after shooting 2-1 against Laois, Frank Lohan, who normally plays alongside brother Brian in the Clare full-back line, said that he would have no complaints playing full-forward for the second successive match.

"The most important thing is to make the first 15, so I would be happy enough to give it another go at full-forward," said Lohan, who shot a goal in each half.

"Obviously it makes things more satisfying if you get a few goals when you're playing as a forward, so I was quite happy with the way things went for me.

"My only previous experience of the full-forward position had been at the start of my senior club career, and then on a few occasions over the years when I was moved upfield for my club," said Lohan, who shot 2-6 in a challenge against the University of Limerick.

"But the way I approached it was that it represented a new challenge for me, and so it was something to look forward to."

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However, Cork city-based Lohan (28), who made his championship debut in 1995 against Cork, added that it was too early yet to speculate on whether he would be filling an attacking, rather than a defensive, role in the Munster Championship with Waterford, on May 16.

"I've played only one serious match at full-forward, and, if I'm selected there against Dublin, things might not go as well for me. I'm still very much on a learning curve, and the time to make a judgement would be after we've played our five league games - that's if I'm still at full-forward."

Lohan will have to wait until tomorrow night to find out if he has retained the No 14 jersey. Because Clare have no fewer than eight players involved in today's Fitzgibbon Cup quarter-finals, between Limerick IT and NUIG, team boss Anthony Daly has delayed announcing his line-up.

Dublin dual ace Conal Keaney took a knock on the shin against Galway, but Humphrey Kelleher is optimistic that the Ballyboden St Endas man will be fit to line out against Clare. However, a doubt surrounds left corner-back Derek O'Reilly, who was forced to retire with a shoulder injury last Sunday.

Despite the 1-14 to 2-6 defeat, Kelleher felt there were a few positives. "We won the second half, even missing three frees which would have left us just a goal behind," he said.

"But we froze in the first half and have to learn to play without stage fright. Last Sunday we made errors that wouldn't happen in training.

"The quality and commitment is there, but we need the confidence that only comes from winning."


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