Tony Kelly believes Clare boss Lohan’s future ‘shouldn’t be up for discussion’

‘If it was up to me or the players, we’d love if he decided to continue on’

Tony Kelly has advised the Clare county board to be decisive and to nail down manager Brian Lohan to a third season in charge without delay.

Lohan was appointed for a two-year term in late 2019 with the option of a third season following a review at the end of 2021.

The former full back has reached that review point now and it remains to be seen whether officials feel there is more in Lohan’s credit column after 22 months in charge than in his debit column.

Kelly admitted that things were generally ‘bleak’ after their surprise league loss to Antrim back in May but season-defining championship wins over Wexford in both 2020 and 2021 may ultimately prove enough to win over any critics.


“The only question mark should be if he wants to continue, there should be no debate otherwise,” said Kelly, receiving his PwC GAA/GPA player of the month award for June. “If Brian Lohan wants the Clare job, he should be given the Clare job in my opinion.

“He came in in 2020. In 2019, we didn’t have a great campaign and he steadied the ship. There was a lot going on in terms of Covid and he progressed us a bit last year.

"This year we did make improvements again and if you can get the likes of Shane O'Donnell and Peter Duggan back next year, it would be a massive, massive help to him and to us as well.

“If it was up to me or the players, we’d love if he decided to continue on. There should be no real debate. It shouldn’t be up for discussion. If he wants the job, he should get it.”

Lohan’s term in charge has coincided with conflict behind the scenes in Clare which has been consistently reported on throughout the year, though Kelly said it never became an issue for the players.

“There’s obviously talk inside the county and outside the county about things and the county board,” said Kelly. “But in terms of the players, it doesn’t affect how we perform on the field. It doesn’t affect how we train. It’s an issue for management and any dealings they have with them. As far as I’m aware, no player has been affected by it or had any real dealings with the county board.”

Kelly, who lit up the championship with a remarkable individual display against Cork during Clare’s All-Ireland round two qualifier defeat, is optimistic that former All Star Duggan will be back for 2022.

It’s been reported locally that Duggan, who has lived in Australia since November, 2019, will shortly return and play in the upcoming county championship.

“I think he’s actually in the country the coming week,” said Kelly. “I think he’s back for his club. We can’t afford to be without anyone. The likes of Peter, Shane O’Donnell this year, was a huge, huge loss for us. I consider [Duggan] one of our best hurlers, so the two of them would be like two new players coming in to us.

“Especially the form Peter was in. It’s important too that if he is coming back that he gets a good run in the club championship and gets a good few games under his belt.”

Kelly said he’s excited about what Lohan may be able to achieve in a Covid-free environment having managed largely so far throughout the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of managers in a similar boat and it’s been tough,” said the 2013 Hurler of the Year.