SHE’S only 25 but when Ailish Considine totted up the figures, the Kilmihil girl realised that she has been playing adult football for 12 years.
As the club approaches their second successive county final against Banner Ladies on Sunday, Considine somewhat reluctantly acknowledged that she is not far off the veteran category.
“It’s mad. I didn’t think it was that long. I probably am one of the oldest on the team now, which is a scary thought,” she laughed uneasily.
This weekend’s final will be just the fourth club championship game of 2017 for both clubs, who met in the two team group stages.
While Considine gets plenty of games at county level, she knows that club players simply don’t get sufficient matches. A senior or intermediate club team play three championship games at most, if they don’t make it out of their group and lose their B or shield semi-final. Throw in the fact that clubs often have to play league games without their county players and it’s clear that the club-county balance is heavily weighed in favour of the county team.
“It’s not great on the club players. We’ve only had three championship games this year, including the semi-final. We only had two group games. Win one and you’re ok, lose two and you’re out. That’s crazy for a championship but with the way the fixtures are, that’s how it goes,” Considine reflected.
“I don’t think club players got enough games this year and something needs to be done in terms of that. County fixtures are flat out between June and you’d hope September but club players can’t be just training the whole year and playing maybe only two championship games. It’s not enough for them or for them to progress.
“The 11-a-side tournament that was held a couple of years ago was a great tournament. It meant that county players couldn’t play and it took the pressure off the county girls. Club players were getting so many more games and that’s what you need. Training for so long and not having a game is hard to do,” the UL student pointed out.
Considine loves playing for Kilmhil and is hopeful that they can rattle Banner Ladies for longer on Sunday. They played some good football in last year’s final before running out of steam.
“Nobody gave us a chance last year and we just kind of said we had nothing to lose. Banner are going for seven in-a-row this year. We knew last year we could rattle them but we just didn’t have the legs to carry on. We didn’t have enough in the tank to finish out the game. It was a great performance but we still didn’t come out with the win. We don’t want to hear that Kilmihil put in a great effort, fair play to them. Moral victories won’t get you a medal.”
Finalists in 2009 and last year, this weekend will be the first time they have reached successive senior finals. Under the management of John Dalton, who is in is second year in the role, they started training in February. Aaron Considine (Clarecastle), whose mother is from Kilmihil, coaches the team, while Kevin Callinan and Gerry Mahon complete the set-up.
Kilmihil emerged from a group that included West Clare Gaels and Banner Ladies, while they beat Newmarket in the semi-final. Having played for her club for so long at this point, Considine has no issue accepting additional responsibility.
“The more you play, the more pressure is on your shoulders to have an impact on games but that’s all part of it. You’re playing for your parish and with the girls you’ve grown up with. At county, it’s brilliant to be playing at the highest level you can play at but there’s just something special about the club. It’s where you’re from. You’re representing your family and friends and everyone in the parish. It’s not that it’s lacking in a county set-up but it’s more personal in a club.”
Ailish’s sister Eimear has just set off travelling for a year so she won’t be available.
“She’s in Hong Kong at the moment, en route to Australia. She’s travelling for the year. Herself and Dean [Ryan] have taken career breaks and they’re travelling for the year. They left last Friday,” the younger of the Considine sisters said, not denying that she had tried to talk the big sister into staying at home for another week.
As the clock ticks towards 4.30pm, Kilmihil’s main aim will be to still be competitive. If they are, they have a chance against the six in-a-row champions.
By Peter O’Connell