Champion Chatter Podcast
Home » Breaking News » Clare focused on result with All-Ireland final prize in sight
The Clare junior camogie panel will vie with Antrim this Saturday for a spot in the All-Ireland final. Photograph by John Kelly

Clare focused on result with All-Ireland final prize in sight

Champion Chatter Podcast

Derek Dormer speaks with Clare’s joint coaches and joint captains ahead of their All-Ireland junior camogie semi-final against Antrim tomorrow afternoon

Clare have been here before at this penultimate stage of the competition, 60 plus minutes away from the Final. On Saturday they will face into their third semi-final in a row so does that change the approach in any way?

The management team of Conor Dolan and John Carmody feel that semi-finals are all about winning no matter what, it’s just about getting over the line.

(Conor Dolan): “It’s the worst game ever to lose in any sport, losing a semi-final is horrible, you’re sixty minutes away from Croke Park and the occasion of an All-Ireland Final with all the fanfare that goes with it. Lose the semi-final and all you’ll have is regrets but win and you’ll be playing in the Mecca of hurling and have memories that will last a lifetime’

(John Carmody): “For me the way I see it, the last two semi-finals don’t count, it’s our first semi-final as we weren’t involved the previous two years, those two defeats are irrelevant. It’s not about thinking of Croke Park, it’s not about getting over the line, it’s about putting in a performance and I feel if we perform to our best the result will look after itself.”

Clare also have two joint captains in Truagh-Clonlara player Sinéad Hogg and Kilkishen stalwart Kate O’Gorman. While it’s Sinéads first year with the set-up, Kate has been there and done it as the saying goes, so how has it been this year representing their county?

(Sinead Hogg): “It’s my very first year with the County set-up being called up after the Championship final against Scariff-Ogonelloe and I’m loving every minute of it.
What a dream year for me. We are unbeaten in Championship all year and winning the Munster Final was so special. I can’t believe how well it’s gone for me and now we are just one game away from the final.”

(Kate O’Gorman): “I’ve been involved with Clare a long time, playing under 16, minor and senior but I’ve been with the juniors a few years now so this will be my third semi-final in a row and we have to win it. Losing semi-finals is just horrible.

“This year we just keep on getting results so hopefully this weekend will be the same. To win the Munster Championship and get silverware was just amazing.

“Lifting that trophy with Sinèad was an incredible feeling. Sinèad has been fantastic since she joined the panel and I’m proud to be joint captain with her. Our aim all year has been to get to the top. We are one step closer.”

Both girls feel that the management team have done everything that could be done in terms of preparation.

(SH): “Training is just incredible. We have 40 players, pushing each other on every night. The drills are top notch and the fact that we train together both senior and junior has just been amazing. To train with Eimear Kelly, Clare Hehir, Chloe Morey and all of the senior girls just makes you a better player.”

Kate O’Gorman has a similar view regarding training.

(KOG): “The training this year has been fantastic. The management team are amazing. They are two outstanding coaches with top notch drills. To be in a drill with players like Clare Hehir you just don’t want to mess it up. Your touch improves, your fitness improves and it’s a credit to the management team that they had the vision to do it this way.

“You look forward to training, you turn up a half hour early just to be on the field with these great senior players and we are such a close unit. We are all in it together.

“When we won the Munster title the seniors were unbelievable even though they had just lost the greatest game of camogie I’ve ever seen after extra time, yet they celebrated our victory with us. They are amazing and we are like a family.”

Have they given thought to playing in Croke Park?

(SH): “I’ve tried to put it out of my mind but it would be amazing. We’ve played in great venues this year but Croke Park would be like a dream come true and now that you asked me I’ll probably dream about it all week,” she answers laughing.

(KOG): “Playing in big stadiums adds to any occasion. It was amazing playing in Cusack Park before the Clare senior hurlers and playing in Paìrc Ui Rìnn but after watching the All-Ireland on Sunday it just makes me want to play on that hallowed turf so much more.”

Antrim will provide the opposition in Tullamore on Saturday with a 3.30pm throw in. How do the joint managers see the game going?

(CD): “We have a swagger about us and it’s not an ego thing. It’s to do with being unbeaten, being Munster Champions.

“We haven’t lit up the world but we have improved every outing and the ability to get the job done has given us that swagger.

“Antrim are a fine side but so are we. There is never much between any of the teams that make the final four but I would be hopeful that our ability to cope with adversity and get the job done no matter what will see us through.”

(JC): “Being unbeaten in Championship all year gives you belief, being Munster Champions gives you belief. We have improved each and every outing.

“Training with the Seniors has benefitted these girls immensely. They are conditioned to play senior after the intensity of training so we have that fitness factor.

“Antrim are a dangerous side and can put up big scores. We will give it our all and I couldn’t be happier with these girls. I’ve no doubt that alot of these juniors will go on and play senior in the coming year or two.

“Development has always been our aim and this tremendous bunch just keep progressing and developing each and every outing.”

This junior side work the ball short, recycle possession and play through the lines similar to the senior side. It’s this ball retention ability that could prove vital.

Both managers agree on the method of play that best enhances chances of success as it seems they agree on most things. ohn Carmody goes on to say,

(JC): “We have a management team of seven and we’ve had challenging conversations amongst the seven but funnily enough myself and Conor are on the same page almost all the time and that helps.

“I don’t think I would have came back into management but for Conor. We play to a system. We try to hold possession until we can find the pass. It’s all about getting the ball to the person in the best position.

“We were two points down against Cavan, got three scores in a row by not panicking, by trusting in the system and it was a fantastic victory. We have that calmness under pressure and that has come from winning. Winning is a habit and momentum is a powerful tool.”

Clare will need to trust in the system once more as Antrim will definitely be a stern test.

Throughout the campaign they have consistently racked up big scores hammering Roscommon Down and Limerick scoring 6-44 in those three matches.

Their only reverse came at the hands of All-Ireland favourites Armagh 1-18 to 1-16 so they will be formidable opponents. Clare however are unbeaten in championship and in fact only lost one game all year and that was to Intermediate outfit and last year’s junior champions Wexford in the league so, while it will be close, Clare definitely have the momentum to go one step further than previous campaigns.

If the Clare defence marshalled by joint captains Hogg and O’Gorman can keep Antrim quiet, all roads will then lead to the destination every person involved in Clare Camogie wants – Croke Park on All-Ireland Final Day.

About Derek Dormer

Check Also

Wesley serving smiles to lighten load for refugees in camps

A KILLALOE tennis coach is continuing his drive to bring a smile to the faces …