Former Clare star Jamesie O’Connor believes the current All-Ireland hurling champions can successfully defend their Liam McCarthy crown.
O’Connor, who was unveiled as Sky Sports’ new hurling analyst for this summer’s championships, was part of the Banter County’s 1995 and 1997 All-Ireland winning team.
And he feels there are striking similarities between the side he played in and the current crop of county players.
“They’re an ambitious bunch of young men,” said O’Connor in The Irish Independent.
“You look at the age profile, we were very young in ’95. I was 23, Brian Lohan 24, but Seanie McMahon, Frank Lohan and all those guys were younger than us. They were U21 at the time, so the age profile in a way is similar.”
While admitting that Kilkenny and Tipperary will pose a serious threat, O’Connor says the motivation to achieve back-to-back All-Irelands will drive the Clare hurlers on.
“The hope would be in Clare that they’ll kick on now and they don’t settle for one. I don’t think that they will and winning one, in a way, takes the pressure off.”
He added: “If anything, the current Clare side are younger so they know that potentially there’s an opportunity for them to be really competitive over the next few years.”