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Clare ladies' football captain Caoimhe Harvey.
Clare ladies' football captain Caoimhe Harvey. Photograph by John Kelly

Caoimhe eager to scratch a seven year All-Ireland itch

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Redemption has been the driving force of many’s a player but the reality is that most don’t ever get the opportunity to make up for a previous failing not to mind fully redress the balance.
Caoimhe Harvey is a prime example as having hit the ground running in her first year at adult inter-county level in 2016, the teenager helped Clare to reach Croke Park only for her All-Ireland Intermediate Final dream to turn into a nightmare as the Banner were agonisingly edged out by Kildare.
“This is the first time since then so it is a massive day for anyone playing in an All-Ireland Final. I mean emotions are really, really high and for me back in 2016, I had just turned 17 and I definitely let the occasion get to me.
“You can’t help yourself. I mean I was a teenager getting a Garda escort down Jones Road, this is the stuff you dream about. And the atmosphere of the crowd means that you might be standing beside someone in the warm-up but you just can’t hear them.
“It was all so new and just madness really when you think about it but of course, if you can zone in on the field for the hour, overall it’s a great day and one to savour every moment of.
“So I always said that if I did ever got back there again, I’d rectify that so that’s something I hope to implement on Sunday.”
Consequently while the more experienced players found that 2016 decider reverse a difficult pill to swallow as they weren’t sure if they’d ever manage to reach the promised land again, Caoimhe, the youngest of four Harvey sisters to play for Clare’s flagship side, simply brushed it off as she expected to be back on All-Ireland Final on a regular basis.
“The girls won it in ’09 and we next made it in 2016 with only five left from that 2009 panel. So it’s gone nearly a 360 degrees again because there are only four of us left from seven years ago.

‘To be fair, we have to give Kildare the respect they deserve but nothing more than that. We’ve prepared how we would for any other match and we know that they will provide an extremely tough challenge but do we fear them? No.’

“I genuinely thought I’d get there the following year, I certainly didn’t think it would take seven years so that’s one thing that I’m trying to implement within the group that we can’t take this for granted no matter what.
“We had a speaker in with us a few weeks ago and one of the main aspects we took out of it is ‘to be present.’ So one hundred per cent, take in the moment but then you need to snap back out of it because we’ve a game to play.
“We’ve won nothing yet so that’s our main aim, to come home with a cup.”
Still only 24, Caoimhe proudly wears the captain’s armband but feels at ease in the role with her sisters Shauna and Grainne also on the panel.
“The girls have huge experience. Shauna has been in the county panel since 2012 and Grainne since 2014 I’d say so they have seen and done almost everything possible on and off the field. So I may be captain but I’d also listen to what they have to say and take it on board because they have far more experience than I have.
“It’s great to have them around us and to be honest it’s great for our family and is a huge achievement really.”
That family connection runs ever deeper as Caoimhe did get to play in an All-Ireland Final in 2017, a thrilling Minor B decider victory over a Meath side that possessed many of the team that soared to back-to-back senior honours at the beginning of this decade.
Harvey starred alongside Aine Keane, Lizzy Roche and Megan Downes while who else but current intermediate top scorer Fidelma Marrinan scored the winning point to finally seal a historic crown for a Clare side managed by Caoimhe’s late and great father Kieran alongside her sister Shauna.
“A fine shot of the girls that played in that All-Ireland Minor B will be playing on Sunday. That day was so memorable and in my footballing career to date, that was certainly one of the highlights. Especially after losing the intermediate the previous year, it was great to see a positive outcome from all the hard work and training. So it was a great day for the county but again it’s hard to believe that that is now six years ago and being honest, most have us have won nothing since.”
So while Caoimhe’s appetite is definitely sharpened, does she sense a similar resolve within this new-look group to finally bridge that 14 year gap to the county’s last All-Ireland Intermediate title?
“We’ve lost five or six starters from last year so it’s mainly a brand new group but there is a real determination there. We’ve seen that against Tyrone when we had to dig deep, we saw it against Westmeath when they came back at us late in the first half and again against Antrim in the semi-final it was certainly no pushover.
“To be fair, we have to give Kildare the respect they deserve but nothing more than that. We’ve prepared how we would for any other match and we know that they will provide an extremely tough challenge but do we fear them? No.
“They have great players but so do we so I really think that’s it will come down to who actually seizes the day best will win.
“I mean as the championship has progressed, no matter what what the challenge, occasion or weather is, we’ve controlled what we can control on the field and pulled it out of the fire.
“So there’s no doubt at all in my mind that there’s a serious determination there to go all the way on Sunday.”

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