On a tremendous weekend of GAA action, Shane O'Donnell's performance for a resurgent Clare side was one of the true highlights.
O’Donnell put in a man of the match display as Clare ran out 3-21 to 2-16 winners at Sample Stadium.
The return of the 27-year-old forward was added bonus for Clare, with fears that he may not return to GAA after missing the entirety of last season due to concussion issues.
A head injury in Clare training put his playing career in doubt. Shane O’Donnell revealed to Christy O'Connor of the Irish Examiner the true extent of his issues in November:
"I had nine out of 10 symptoms just sitting on the couch, My primary symptoms for first four weeks or so were nausea and pressure in my head. Then it was sensitivity to light and sound but the whole gambit was there.
"Some days you wake up and you feel ok. You think you’re getting out of it and the next day you’re feeling worse than ever.
"It just psychologically saps every bit out of you. It’s absolutely exhausting.”
After further setbacks with his club Éire Óg, O’Donnell’s main priority was ensuring he was healthy, rather then a return to the Clare setup.
"Playing with Clare wasn’t on my radar at all.
"I missed being OK. I missed my brain functioning in the way it should. That was all I missed.”
O’Donnell’s academic achievements outside the pitch are to be admired, receiving a Fulbright scholarship to Harvard University after completing a PhD in microbiology in UCC.
With a bright future ahead of him regardless what he does in life, O’Donnell couldn't be blamed if he made the decision to not return to Clare.
Making his first start since 2020, O’Donnell’s performance was praised by Anthony Daly on last night's Sunday Game, who believes the return of him and Peter Duggan - who is back from his travels in Australia and ready to hurl again- is huge for Clare.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) April 24, 2022
“To have them back in that room today was massive. They were so effective today, Shane got man of the match.
What a contribution he made; the pace is still there. Look at the little touch, he is up above Ronan Maher and popping it off to one of the new guys Robyn Mounsey.
For the likes of Robyn Mounsey, Patrick Crotty and these guys. To see Shane O’Donnell and Peter Duggan back in the group must be a massive, massive lift.”
Cork will meet the Bannermen next Sunday in Thurles, and it's all set to be an epic match that will go a long way to deciding which of the two counties gets out of the round robin.