Eoin Brennan looks ahead to the senior, intermediate and junior championships, beginning this weekend
Having unceremoniously snatched back their senior crown last September, Banner Ladies are gunning for their 12th title in 14 seasons and remain still the team to beat despite an ever-evolving panel.
Kilmihil were the last to lower the Banner in a near-perfect final display in 2019 in what was their fourth consecutive final appearance.
That breakthrough came nine years after West Clare Gaels did likewise against the Ennis side, with last year’s welcome return to a final proving a sobering experience.
2019 Intermediate winners Cooraclare made an immediate impact in the top tier by reaching the semi-finals at the first attempt, something which newcomers Kilmurry Ibrickane will hope to emulate by becoming the dark horses for the prestigious crown.
The county senior ladies football championship comprises six teams in one group, with the top four teams advancing to the semi-finals (1 v 4, 2 v 3).
The winners contest the Senior A Championship Final while the semi-final losers clash for the Senior B title.
The bottom two teams in the group will contest the relegation final.
The teams contesting the championship are: Banner Ladies, St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield, Kilmurry Ibrickane, Kilmihil Ladies, Cooraclare and West Clare Gaels
The intermediate ladies football championship comprises nine teams, divided into two groups, with the top two teams from each advancing to the semi-finals (1A V 2B, 2A V 1B).
The 3rd and 4th placed teams contest the Intermediate Shield Semi-Finals (3A v 4B, 4A v 3B).
The Shield Semi-Final losers along with the fifth team in Group A will contest the Relegation Play-Offs, with one team receiving an unwanted bye to the relegation final while the remaining two teams play each other in a relegation semi-final.
Group A – Burren Gaels, Cúil Gaels, Doonbeg, Kilrush, Liscannor
Reclaiming their senior status at the first attempt will be Cúil Gaels’ sole priority as they look to negotiate the choppy waters of intermediate for the first time. Senior semi-finalists at the first attempt in 2018 certainly demonstrates their potential but in a five team group involving 2017 champions Burren Gaels, three-in-a-row semi-finalists Liscannor who incidentally were on the losing side in that 2017 North Clare final and the last two Junior A champions Doonbeg and Kilrush, it will be a far from straight-forward task.
Group B – Éire Óg, Fergus Rovers, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Miltown Malbay
Following back-to-back final defeats to West Clare rivals Cooraclare and Kilmurry Ibrickane, Miltown will feel that they have more than paid their dues at intermediate level.
It doesn’t always work out like that as newly reformed group rivals Newmarket-on-Fergus will testify to, having slumped to five consecutive senior camogie final defeats as recently as last September. Fergus Rovers, who reached last year’s semi-finals, will hope to maintain their upward curve while Éire Óg could beat any of their three rivals but just haven’t yet displayed the consistency to gather momentum.
THE County Junior A Ladies Football Championship comprises seven teams, divided into two groups, with the top two teams from each advancing to the semi-finals (1A V 2B, 2A V 1B).
The 3rd team in Group B and the 4th placed team in Group A contest the Junior A Shield Semi-Final, with the 3rd placed team in Group A awaiting the winners in the final
The Shield Semi-Final loser will be relegated to Junior B for 2022.
Group A – Banner Ladies, Clarecastle, Kildysart, Wolfe Tones
Familiar foes at junior B level, all four sides could potentially snatch the two semi-final spots with a momentum-fuelled run. Ironically, the only second team, Banner Ladies, have the most experience at this grade having contested two of the last three finals. Clarecastle are only back at adult level while the last two Junior B champions Kildysart (2019) and Wolfe Tones (2020) won’t lack motivation either, especially against each other.
Group B – Clooney-Quin, East Clare Gaels, St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield
With two to emerge from this three team group, Clooney-Quin are the firm favourites to advance unscathed but face a tricky opening derby test against St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield’s second string. 2018 Junior B winners East Clare Gaels have yet to make their mark in this championship but will never get a better chance to throw their hat in the ring for a semi-final spot.