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Clare have no margin for error in Division 2 bearpit

HAVING languished in the lower divisions for so long, Clare now enter their fifth consecutive National Football League campaign in Division 2. And as it has constantly proved, there’s no better stomping ground to test every sinew of the players’ resilience and character. Clare have been repeatedly battling right up to the final minutes, not to mind the last match in what has been the ultimate bearpit. Due to Covid and time restrictions, the number of bears have been reduced for 2021 but if anything their claws are sharper, an intensity factor that 2019 All Star nominee Jamie Malone only relishes ahead of Sunday’s season commencement. “Things are going well so far and I think when you’re coming in with a good attitude and enthusiasm, it gets you a long way when you’re tuned into it. So I’m sure we’ll continue to improve and maintain that upward curve over the next few weeks. “The games will help but you still …

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Clare junior camogie team ready for road to redemption

Littlewoods National Camogie League Division 3 Group 2 Round 1 Limerick v Clare at Kilmallock, 2pm (John Horgan, Cork) DRIVEN by a valid sense of injustice having been unceremoniously ejected from last year’s All-Ireland Premier Junior Champion-ship, Clare are determined to cherish every minute of this year’s season. After contesting the 2019 All-Ireland Semi-Finals against eventual champions Kerry in Cusack Park, Clare harboured legitimate hopes of a historic breakthrough with their second team. However, with the tightening of government restrictions dictating that only one team per county would be permitted to field in the All-Ireland Camogie Championships, the Banner’s 2020 hopes fell on stony ground. Coming only days after a rousing opening group victory over Offaly, it was a devastating means of bowing out of the campaign according to joint-manager Ann-Marie McGann. “It was quite a sickener I can tell you. We really thought that we could go far in the championship so to see Armagh winning it, a team …

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Tough opener for Clare against high-flying Galway team

National Camogie League Division 1 Group 1 Round 1 Galway v Clare at Athenry, Saturday 2pm (John Dermody, Westmeath) WITHOUT a competitive or even a challenge match in six months, Clare’s league campaign begins with a baptism of fire on Saturday against a Galway side they have found increasingly difficult to keep pace with in recent years. That is all to do with Galway’s elevated development path that has now positioned them in the top two teams in the country along-side current champions Kilkenny. Cathal Murray’s side have contested the last two All-Ireland Finals and famously secured a first ever National League and Championship double in 2019, albeit with the assistance of current Clare coach Conor Dolan. Indeed, Dolan’s addition to Clare’s backroom team is not just insightful when facing Galway but it would have been interesting to see how the season would have panned out had Covid not darkened our doors in 2020. After all, by the time the …

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Good start essential for Clare footballers in hectic schedule

Colm Collins says the Banner panel are ready to make the most of their opportunities THE longest winter in GAA history certainly rivalled anything that Game of Thrones could threaten. However, while spring has been essentially bypassed, it does open up a summer of possibilities albeit that it’s predicated on hitting the ground running, particularly when it comes to football. With the championship being straight knock-out and the imminent National League halved, Clare have only five guaranteed competitive matches in 2021, something which Colm Collins is only too aware of in advance of his eighth season in charge. “The games will be coming at us thick and fast over the next three weekends so we just have to be ready and make the most of the opportunity and I think we will, being honest. “There’s a great energy around the whole camp and that’s to be expected because if you look at it, the majority of them haven’t played a …

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Clare coach Dolan faces former charges in derby

WITH a potential boycott of the National Camogie League prevented on Tuesday afternoon with the Camogie Association’s u-turn to align with the other three codes in a split season fixture approach, the path is finally clear for Clare to home in on neighbours Galway on Saturday. As opening National League tests go, Clare couldn’t have envisioned a tougher start as Galway have contested the last two all-Ireland Finals. However, possessing the coach that helped the Tribeswomen to only a third ever All-Ireland crown (2019) in Conor Dolan is certainly a huge boost to the Banner’s cause. And for the Meelick native himself, it promises to be a strange occasion as it’s the first time that he has faced Galway competitively since coming back to Clare in 2020. “It’ll be interesting. Look, I had nothing but good times and memories from the two years I was involved with the girls up there. “It was a great experience and we had a …

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Questions unanswered as Clare county board meeting cut short

AN online meeting of Clare County Board had to be adjourned on Tuesday night due to technical issues, but not before Chairman Jack Chaplin had said that hurling supporters club accounts for 2012 to 2016 are not the business of the board. He also indicated that as the Kilmaley club had not followed up in writing on questions raised by its delegate Niall Romer at the April meeting about the position of Secretary Pat Fitzgerald, these would not be addressed. Speaking to the Clare Champion this week, Chaplin reiterated that the GAA have advised that supporters clubs are not the business of county boards. “What Croke Park has said is it’s outside our remit, what happened with those fundraisers. Going forward they are looking to regulate it, but they are historic ones and are outside of our remit.” Asked if he was concerned that significant sums appear to have been raised on the back of Clare GAA, but there seems …

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Clare suffer shock defeat to Antrim in league opener

National League Division 1 Group B Round 1 Antrim 1-21 Clare 0-22 A SOBERING start to the new season for Clare as hosts Antrim grittily dug out a rousing home victory in what was their first top flight league tie since 2008. Eoin Brennan reports. With a strong gale dictating matters, Clare started brightly with its aid to ease 0-9 to 0-3 clear by the 15th minute, four from Tony Kelly. However, Antrim incrementally grew in confidence as the half developed and would wipe out the visitors’ lead in the 29th minute when a teasing ball over the top found chief marksman Ciaran Clarke to race through and finish to the net at 0-12 to 1-09. Clare did restore a two point cushion by the break but with the elements to come, a buoyant Antrim quickly snatched the whip hand to inch ahead for the first time by the 46th minute through Keith Molloy. In a blow-for-blow second period, the …

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Banner headed north on league fact finding mission

Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B Round 1 Antrim v Clare at Corrigan Park Belfast, Sunday 1pm (Liam Gordon, Galway) Already established as the secondary inter-county competition, this year’s Allianz Hurling League takes a even more diminishing backseat in light of the truncated season on offer over the next 14 weeks. Instead, finding your feet, form, formation and force take precedence over results in a bid to peak for championship at the end of June. Five matches in six weeks provide a far more beneficial lead-in to championship than in 2020 when an eight month absence from competitive action left counties scrambling to gain crumbs from an often misleading challenge match circuit once returning from the club championships. Without scope to conclude with any business end, this year’s Division 1 is a league in its purest sense as the top team from each group are crowned joint-winners unless they subsequently clash in the championship. Similar to Clare and Limerick’s …

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