"I have studied the best centre backs" - Conlon learning to love life in the half-back line 3 weeks ago

"I have studied the best centre backs" - Conlon learning to love life in the half-back line

John Conlon says he was shocked two years ago when, after years of playing in the forwards, Brian Lohan asked him how he fancied centre back.

Conlon, Lohan and Clare haven't looked back -  he's been a mainstay at six ever since.


The Clonlara player seemed to discover something of a new lease of life in the half-back-line, and has made a habit out of dominating games from the heart of the Clare defence. Along with his sound distribution, his composure on the ball is a key part of Clare's tactics, and will be again this evening in their crunch Munster championship clash against Waterford.

Looking back, it has turned out to be a masterstroke from Lohan,.

"It was sprung on me when I was 31," Conlon says in an exclusive interview on this week's GAA Hour, as he was named the PwC hurler of the month for April.

"At the time, it was a bit of a shock to the system.


"I had just come back from the cruciate knee injury, not long after we'd come back from the Covid.

"We were training in Cusack Park in and Brian came to me as I was doing the warm-up and just said we're going to try you at six today.

5 August 2018; Daithí Burke of Galway gains possession ahead of John Conlon of Clare during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final replay match between Galway and Clare at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Co Tipperary. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

"That's where it started. I went home to my wife and said 'pity he didn't tell me over the last four months, I wouldn't have been up practicing my shooting up the field the whole time!"

"I'm still a forward at heart at times, and I'll go back up there with the club at the end of the year, but I have studied the best centre backs and I've looked at what they've brought to the game."

Lohan showed his tactical nous with that positional switch, but Conlon says it's his genuine nature that endears him not just to the squad, but to the people of Clare. Their togetherness is notable.

"He's a man of few words really, a quiet unassuming man, but we can see the passion he has on match day, leading up to big games, and we just love playing for him.


"His interviews are the exact same way as he speaks to us. A very genuine person."

Many spectators will have noticed that, over the last few years, Conlon has worn an 'NBA sleeve,' as he calls it, on his arm during games. He says that, rather than a fashion statement, this is to protect a dodgy elbow that has niggled at him ever since a collision with Daithí Burke in the 2018 semi-final.

"I just have a very bad funny bone elbow from getting too many hooks into the elbow.

"Back in '18, the first day, I swung back and hit Daithí Burke with the elbow and it was so bad after that, I couldn't touch it off anything.


"I was told to go off and get the NBA sleeve, like if a basketballer falls. It's just padding there, so I can't get hit on the elbow so it's not a fashion statement no!"

Meanwhile, Conlon says that his brother Patrick's wedding went well after Clare's win over Limerick, although his dad Pat would have preferred if it wasn't set for the middle of the Munster championship.

"My dad now, he'd be so mad into it that if he'd been allowed to leave there at around half six, six o'clock, to get into the Gaelic Grounds, I'm sure he would have taken a detour before coming back to the wedding but I think he was under strict instruction from my mother to not budge so.

"He was giving out to the brother I'd say for putting it in the middle of the Munster championship.

"Aw yeah, yeah, dad wouldn't be one to hold back now so he got many a few digs, the two of them work together as well so, they kind of run the farm as well at home so, yeah, I'm sure he got a few harsh words at different stages, no better man than Pat to do it."

Listen to the full interview here.