It's about time Clare gave secret weapon Shanagher a chance 11 months ago

It's about time Clare gave secret weapon Shanagher a chance

Last year there was an excuse.

The All-Ireland semi-final in 2018 and Aron Shanagher isn't long back in full training. The Wolfe Tones club man tore his cruciate ligament back in November 2017 and is only really coming back into his own around now.

He'll be worth a few minutes.

Points from Niall Burke and David Burke give Galway a three point cushion and the Banner look beaten. It looks like a last resort type of thing.

Their fourth and final sub of normal time, Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor finally release their secret weapon. Shanagher takes to the Croke Park pitch as if to say 'why the hell were you holding me back?'

John Hanbury doesn't know what's hit him.

Within moments of his 67th minute introduction he's already causing consternation. Within minutes, Clare are back level and going for extra-time with Shanagher having soared high to catch a game-changing ball late on.

You know those momentum shifting catches that drive one set of fans crazy and quieten the others to mere mice? Shanagher was in his element.

Galway were delighted to see the dressing rooms.

30 minutes of end-to-end extra-time action and Shanagher wouldn't have wanted anything else. The Galway backline hadn't a clue how to deal with his athleticism and freakish air game.

When you think that this is a man only back from a cruciate ligament injury you begin to realise just how effective he can be.

His goal is phenomenal. Colm Galvin sends a raker high into the sky, Shanagher turns water to wine to give Clare a lifeline.

Leaving Croke Park everybody's saying this guy must be starting the next day. Shanagher is held in reserve again. Maybe it's the clever thing to do, he'll have some impact late on.

Again Shanagher is held back until the 63rd minute. He's Clare's fifth and final sub of the day. Unbelievable stuff but he doesn't feel sorry for himself.

Scores a point within minutes and with one of the very last pucks of the ball is the width of half a post and an unlucky rebound from putting Clare into their first All-Ireland final in five years.

Clare fans leave disappointed but at least they have hope for 2019. A fully-fit Shanagher is some proposition.

2019 arrives and the 22-year-old is again held back. Clare's first three League games passed without Shanagher seeing the light of day. Finally, he makes his first appearance against Wexford but it's only for two minutes after John Conlon was injured late on.

He'd only get the opportunity to start one game in that whole campaign. Two games into the Munster championship and he's only seen 20 minutes of play.

You begin to reason in your head that there must be some sort of niggle or injury there, but the fact that he's been making panels and been introduced for cameos suggests otherwise.

Clare are in near do-or-die territory against Limerick on Sunday. It's a gilt-edged chance for the Banner to knock their near neighbours out of the championship but their named starting 15 has only one change from the terrible showing against Tipperary.

And Shanagher is again on the bench. John Conlon had a brilliant 2018 but players can't be living on reputation and he's been really poor in the two Munster championship games so far. A more ruthless managerial decision would see Shanagher on the edge of the square today.

The unpredictable always strikes fear. Mike Casey wouldn't like to have seen Shanagher coming in on top of him.