Clare travel to Wexford this Sunday as they bid to pick up more vital points in their Ladies National Football League Division Two campaign.
A storming first-half performance almost saw the Banner off to the perfect start against Kerry last weekend, before a late rally from the Kingdom saw them take a share of the spoils.
Clare management and players have made no secret of their ambition to reach the semi-finals of this year’s league, and a point against one of the favourites to win the title outright will do their chances no harm at all.
Clare boss James Murrihy admits while they are delighted to have picked up their first point, it’s a bittersweet feeling that it wasn’t more.
“On one hand we gained a point but on the other you could say that we lost two. The overriding feeling is that we would have asked the girl for work-rate and to have a good attitude heading into the game so they could deliver the right performance, and they did that so we couldn’t have asked more of them. We were calm at half-time after leading by eight points, but we had actually started slow. We were three points down early on but managed to claw it back level before Fidelma got the goal. That opened it up a bit for us and the other goals coming so quickly after that probably rocked Kerry a little bit. They came out after half-time and hit for us for 1-3 unanswered so we did away with the sweeper and went back 15 on 15 and that seemed to work better for us. We got ourselves back into the game and Laurie’s goal looked to have settled us but unfortunately we just couldn’t see it out” he said.
With 5 senior teams among the 7 that Clare will face in this year’s campaign, many pundits would have tipped Kerry to leave west Clare with all three points from Sunday’s game. Murrihy says it might be a valuable point when the final standings are settled.
“You go out to win every game, but if you are to be realistic about it, there are one or two teams in the division who you are not expected to beat. We are taking it one game at a time but we have set a goal of getting to the semi-final. I would like to think that point could be the difference between us and other teams who have a similar target in a few months time” said the Kilmurry Ibrickane man.
Clare now travel to Wexford to face a team who will also be operating at intermediate level when the championship rolls around later this year.There could be a further boost for Clare ahead of this one, as it is hoped star forward Niamh O’Dea will be available after she missed out last weekend due to a hamstring injury. Murrihy is warning that his side need to move on quickly from last weekend’s result, and build on the positivity of it.
He said: “We told the girls after the game that while it was great to get a point out of it, and they will be getting the plaudits, they now have to back it up against a team that is perceived to be at their level. Wexford would be a team that are going to be in the mix for the All-Ireland Intermediate title, so for us to go down there and face them in their own back yard will be a big test for us. If we can come out with all three points from it, it will be a good weekend’s work. As a group, we would like to think there will be continuous improvement from all of us as the year goes on with the ultimate aim of building to be right for the summer”.
Clare v Wexford gets underway on Sunday in Enniscorthy at 1pm.