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Clare Senior Camogie Manager, John Carmody. Photograph by Natasha Barton

Carmody’s Clare braced for the challenges ahead

Clare senior camogie manager John Carmody is targeting an All-Ireland quarter-final spot for his young team, but before that they’ll have an historic first ever outing in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday, writes Joe Ó Muircheartaigh.

The All-Ireland is where it’s at but there’s no better preparation for the gruelling group stages to begin in late May than by having a Munster Championship tie to look forward to on Sunday.
As Clare supporters make their way in numbers to the banks to support the men in their crucial clash against the Rebels, the fact that the curtain raiser involves the camógs is something that Banner boss John Carmody and his team are eager to embrace.
“That’s huge preparation for us ahead of the All-Ireland series,” he told The Clare Champion this week. “Are we improving? How close can we put it up to Cork next Sunday? That’s what we’re looking for.
“It’s great for the girls to get the exposure and to play in front of the big crowd. We haven’t played in Pairc Uí Chaoimh – it will be great to get out on an excellent surface, along with Thurles and Croke Park it’s the best in Ireland.
“It will be a learning curve for them out there, but we’ll see how much we can push Cork in that game,” he added.
That curve is arcing towards the All-Ireland Championship group in which Clare will again have to face the Rebels, while also having Galway, Down, Dublin and Wexford to contend with.
“The learning curve was sharp in the National League but you couldn’t have asked for more ideal preparation from a management point of view.
“We tried out a lot of things – we tried players in different positions and we learned a lot about what is working and what isn’t working,” he said.
“When you have young players the only way to learn is to play the best. We played the top five teams in the country in competitive action this year. We came up short on each occasion but at the same time learned what it’s all about.
“There has been a notable step up in intensity and effort to get to that level and we would hope that when it comes to the All-Ireland series that we would be at the level required,” he added.
When that All-Ireland series comes around on May 25 the games will be coming thick and fast, something that will test the panel strength of all involved, something that Carmody is happy with going into the campaign.
“You have five games in six weeks and you need your full panel and thankfully this year we have developed the panel,” he said. “We have 24/25 girls pushing hard for places and they will all be needed.
“This is the third year of the combined panels. We are seeing the benefit of the senior and intermediate teams training together. You have a batch of nine or ten that won the intermediate All-Ireland Championship last year and they’re stepping up to senior.
“They’ve had to learn quick and are learning quick. There is an excitement about that – a young fresh team eager to train and eager to push on and it’s very enjoyable to be training them. They are embracing the challenges that are coming down the road.”
The challenge that he’s set the team is to emerge from the group, something everyone is convinced is within reach. “A quarter-final place is a realistic goal,” said Carmody. “We are a young team developing. They are training well and are a great group to be involved with.
“They are putting five or six nights into this project for this. We wouldn’t be taking on the project if we didn’t believe that we could do it. We have young players. We have talented players and that’s the challenge.
“You have the top five and we are somewhere in the next five. It’s probably a championship within a championship and hopefully we can get to that quarter-final position.
“It won’t be easy. Dublin and Wexford played the Division 1B league final and it was a fantastic game of hurling. We feel we are on a par with Dublin/Wexford and Limerick.
“In short we have to beat Down, Dublin and Wexford. We want to compete against Cork and Galway as well because they are the cream of the crop along with Tipperary. You want to measure yourself against the best and we will be doing that,” he added.

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