O'Donnell over his injury nightmare
SHANE O'DONNELL has described 2014 as "the worst year I've ever put down".
The expected follow-up to his All-Ireland SHC final replay hat-trick heroism of 2013 never happened for O'Donnell, a victim to not one, but two hamstring injuries last summer.
"Very difficult," he reflects now, the benefit of a fit and in-form spring in his rear view mirror.
"Especially the nature of the senior games, the games were so close we lost. It was very difficult. Just difficult to take.
"Especially the senior game we lost to Wexford, then the Wednesday I came on against Tipp (in the under-21 Championship) for ten minutes, so I was nearly back, one more game and I'd have been back. It was a long year, very long year.
"I kind of was disappointed about that alright because especially before I got injured, I felt my hurling was going well.
"I'd an infinite pool of confidence from the All-Ireland the year before.
"I don't know, I just thought it would roll off and get into a game and go from there. It was a very stop-start year, very frustrating."
At times, he has thrived as a one-man full-forward line for Clare, particularly during the Banner's comeback win against Dublin in April.
Ultimately, spring would end in disappointment and relegation for the 2013 All-Ireland champions but O'Donnell is acutely aware that a victory over old rivals Limerick on Sunday in Thurles would immediately raise the spirits of his county again.
"But towards the end of it, it started to come together alright and we seemed to be going well," he pointed out.
"That Kilkenny game was very (like) championship pace and everything and it was very good but we still lost ultimately.
"We were disappointed at the end but it was close to where we wanted to get," O'Donnell concluded.