A free was won inside the Clare full back line in the 32nd minute of their All Ireland Quarter final against Tipperary in 2017.
Relatively unnoticed by the crowd and without any great applause a substitution took place on the Clare team. Peter Duggan entered the field to replace the experienced John Conlan.
Andrew Fahey the then Clare goalkeeper took the free and landed it down on Duggan. Flicking the ball over Ronan Maher and then taking a shoulder to shoulder challenge from Paraic Maher. He had a shot on goal but it went harmlessly wide. It was the first sight of some physicality by the Clare forwards.
Half time came in Pairc Ui Chamoimh and Ger Loughnane lamented Clare’s half forward lines weakness in the air. The Clare man longed for a Clare presence in the air to try curb the dominant half back line of Tipperary. Clare’s struggles had never been more evident and they also gifted Tipperary scores from poorly placed puck outs in the lead up to half time. It was all due to a lack of confidence in their ability to contest the high ball.
In the 42 second minute of the game Duggan brokedown a Clare puck out to himself and won possession. As he headed towards the goals with 3 Tipperary players in chase he was fouled in front of goals. The free resulted in a point but Clare still trailed by 5 points.
The Clooney- Quin man went on to score a point in that second half and had a hand in four other scores for Clare. His dominance of Tipperary’s Seamus Kennedy resulted in Tipperary having to move Paraic Maher on Duggan in order to try curb his influence.
Fast forward to 2018 and Duggan continued his growth in to the Clare team. He has become a rock for Clare on the frees and finished the league with a tally of 1-48 from six games. One of the particular highlights being his 19 point haul against Limerick in the hurling league quarter final. Scoring 15 frees, two 65’s and two from play.
But it is Duggan’s aerial presence which has added Clare with extra artillery in their forward line. It is no coincidence that since Duggan emergence , Clare’s other main ball winner in John Conlan has enjoyed one of his best championships. Between Duggan, Conlan and Malone, Clare can now rotate their options under the puck out.
Clare now have two target men in their forward line to win and break ball for players like Shane O Donnell, Conor McGrath, Podge Collins, David Reidy and Tony Kelly.
In this years Munster Championship Duggan has contributed 1-42 to Clare. While only 4 points have come from play and 1-38 coming from placed balls. It is the physicality and aerial ability which is giving Clare the edge.
The Clooney Quin man still posses some traits like a lot of the current Clare team with regards to some questionable shots at different times during games. He is reliable free taker but is giving this Clare team a great option in the air and also brining massive work ethic to a classy Clare forward line.
Ger Loughnane’s prayers have been answered!
Duggan in numbers:
V Cork he broke or won 5 aerial battles which resulted in Clare retaining possession.
V Tipperary he broke or won 5 aerial battles resulting in 3 frees won. He also contributed the two winning scores from play in the 74th and 75th minutes.
V Limerick he broke or won 5 aerial battles resulting 3 points for Clare.
In the Clare game his aerial ability was not needed as much due to Clare working the ball from the defence due to having a spare man.