Ivan Smyth catches up with the Clare skipper ahead of their do-or-die clash with Westmeath
AS Clare prepare for a do or die clash against Westmeath, Caoimhe Harvey is keen to ensure the hard work that her side put in during the third lockdown does not go to waste.
After losing their All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final on November 28 of last year, Harvey would have expected to be able to quickly go about avenging that defeat. However, the third lockdown saw all GAA action called to a halt with players across the country forced to train at home.
The Clare captain insists her side were eager to make up for lost time when they got back on the pitch.
“We were out until late last year but we couldn’t go back until April. There was uncertainty when we were returning with questions about whether it was safe to be back. We followed the guidelines so we’ve been training away ever since.
“We were straight back in to it on April 17. It was exciting. Even just to see your friends again was great. I was really loving being back and I still am so long may it continue.”
For Clare’s campaign to continue, they must turn over a fancied Westmeath side who reached last year’s final and were playing in the senior grade two years ago. The West Clare Gaels club woman maintains that Clare need to win their individual battles in Tuam Stadium on Sunday if they are to progress through to an All-Ireland semi final.
“They are a very strong side. They’ve got great strength in depth, but we know that we need to focus on ourselves and make sure we are ready for a tough game. I think we need to win our own individual battles. We have one job each and that’s win our own battle, so we need to do that job.”
The 22 year old was handed the captaincy by incoming manager Evan Talty at the start of the year. Harvey admits she was surprised to be given the extra responsibility.
“I got the call a couple of weeks in to our individual training. It was huge to be asked to lead the girls out. I was taking over from Ellie (O’Gorman). She was amazing so it was tough to follow in her footsteps.”
“You have a lot of thoughts when you get the news. There is a lot of emotion because you are doing what you love when you play for Clare. When I got the call it was shock more than anything else. It doesn’t really change a lot though. I’m still fighting for my place on the team.”
During her five years on the panel first Laurie Ryan and then Ellie O’Gorman’s captained the side. Harvey insists that she has taken lessons from both of their approaches to the captaincy while she is also trying to stamp her own mark.
“You take it from two sides. They did well when they were captains, so I look at what they did but I try bring my own thing to it also. I try to enforce the standards within the group and make sure first and foremost that I’m performing and working to the standards that the rest of the girls are.”
The West Clare Gaels club woman admits the opening round defeat to Leitrim was frustrating but she was much happier with her side’s showing against Fermanagh in what was effectively a knockout game with only the winner progressing to the knockout stages. She hopes the hard work in training will lead to their best display of the year against Westmeath.
“We need to keep going now after that Fermanagh performance. The girls are training really hard. It is all about making progress, so we need to focus on ourselves this weekend and make sure we give ourselves the best chance.
“We are putting the work in so hopefully it shows against Westmeath.”