Clare retire No 3 jersey in protest


The Clare selectors have decided that the number three shirt will not be seen on the back of a Clare player in next Sunday's All Ireland semi-final against Offaly in Croke Park. This, apparently, will be a protest against the suspension of full back Brian Lohan.

Lohan's brother Frank will fill the full back slot on Sunday, wearing his usual number two, and John Reddan will move into Frank Lohan's right corner back position, but will wear number 17.

PJ O'Connell has been recalled to the right half forward position after suspension. Conor Clancy, who deputised for him in the Munster final replay against Waterford, returns to the bench. Apart from these changes the team is the same as that which lined out against Waterford in the Munster final replay.

Brian Lohan was suspended after being sent off with Waterford's Micheal White just after the start of the replay. The suspension has ruled him out of Sunday's semi-final. White will, however, be available for Waterford's meeting with Kilkenny next Sunday week.

It is significant that the Clare selectors have picked Colin Lynch to partner Ollie Baker at midfield on Sunday, although it is widely believed that Lynch may be suspended for a lengthy period when the Munster Council meets tomorrow night. The council will watch videotape of the opening moments of the replay and Lynch's cause will not be served by what they see. If Lynch is suspended the Clare selectors will be forced to make a change and, presumably, the number nine shirt will not be worn either.

The fall-out from that match has continued to exercise the views of hurling supporters throughout the land and is expected to reach a peak tomorrow night when the Munster Council meets.

Meanwhile, although he has been selected for Clare at right half back for Sunday's match, there are serious concerns about the fitness of Liam Doyle. He suffered a bad ankle injury in the Munster final replay and his training has been curtailed as a result. If, as is feared, he may not be able to play his place at wing back, Michael O'Halloran, who is named among the list of substitutes, may come in. The widespread controversy about the Munster final replay and the reaction of the Clare manager, Ger Loughnane, has generated an extraordinary reaction in the county. It appears that within the last two or three days that there has been an enormous upsurge of interest in the match and that a huge number of Clare people will travel in order to show their solidarity with Loughnane and his players.

Previously it seemed that a victory over Offaly was likely to be an open and shut case, but as rumour followed allegation, the Clare hurling public responded with messages of support and promises that the team would have an enormous following in Croke Park.

Meanwhile, Kilkenny are deeply concerned about two of their key players as they prepare for their semi-final against Waterford in Croke Park on Sunday week. Both Charlie Carter, their top scorer, and the versatile Michael Phelan are unlikely to be fit in time to play. Carter has a severe facial injury which is causing considerable concern. It appears that he was struck near the eye by a sliotar in a training match against the Cork under21 side last Monday night. Although there is no danger of a loss of sight, it is believed that a bone close to the eye has been damaged. Carter has had medic al examinations in Kilkenny, Cork and Dublin and it is feared that he will be under medical advice not to play. The player himself, had, apparently, indicated that he might play wearing a helmet.

The loss of Carter is a massive disappointment for Kilkenny. In three championship matches to date, against Dublin, Laois and Offaly, he has been the county's top scorer, with one goal and 12 points.

Michael Phelan has a severe knee injury and the prognosis is that he will be out of action until Christmas at least. The injury did not appear to be serious at first, but the knee swelled up over a period of days and a blood clot was discovered which doctors are attempting to reduce by the use of drugs before surgery can be attempted.

Phelan has had a most unfortunate history of injury and, although he is insisting that he will make every effort to be fit, the medical indications suggest otherwise. Kilkenny also have two other injury worries. Willie O'Connor has a troublesome groin strain and Pat O'Neill has an injured ankle. Both are having treatment, but their training has been interrupted.

Tyrone minor footballer Ryan O'Neill, who looked certain to miss the All-Ireland semi-final against Leitrim later this month because of a suspected broken leg sustained in a club game, has been told by doctors that there is no fracture, and he will be fit to play for his club tomorrow. Apparently an old injury showed up on his X-ray.

Clare (SH v Offaly): D Fitzgerald; J Reddan, F Lohan, B Quinn; L Doyle, S McMahon, A Daly; O Baker, C Lynch; PJ O'Connell, F Tuohy, J O'Connor; A Markham, N Gilligan, D Forde. Subs: J O'Brien, C Chaplin, B Scanlon, R Woods, C Clancy, G O'Loughlin, F Hegarty, E Taffe, M O'Halloran, D Hegarty, D Scanlon, B Murphy.