Clare make the trip to Cavan on Saturday for round three of the National Ladies football league Division 2.
James Murrihy’s side are yet to pick up their first win of the campaign, but are still undefeated after draws against Kerry and Wexford in their opening two rounds.
It is their first year under the watchful eye of new coach DJ Collins, and the Cork native admits he was coming into a set-up that he already knew plenty about.
“I know some of the Clare players from being involved with UL, especially the likes of Niamh O’Dea and Laurie Ryan. James contacted me and said he was looking to someone to help out in the coaching side of things this year. I had taken a year out from the inter-county scene but I knew the girls and I also knew what James was about too, so when they asked I thought it sounded like a good idea. It didn’t take much of a sales pitch to convince me because I always kept an eye on Clare and we played them with UL in challenge games on a number of occasions so I was aware of the talent that was available to work with. One of the first things that struck me was how young the squad was, but also just how much work had been done with them the previous year. We didn’t have to look for anything, everything was good to go and while the players are young, they’re eager and there’s great structures in place for them and there’s a great environment there” he noted.
Clare’s opening game saw them just fail to take the scalp of Kerry with the Kingdom landing a late free to take a share of the spoils from Doonbeg. The shoe was on the other foot a week later, as Clare came from behind to rescue a draw from their visit to Wexford. Collins feels there have been a lot of positives to take from their first two outings.
He said: “If you’d offered us a draw before the Kerry game, we would have taken your hand off for it given their standing in ladies football. What we are looking for is more performance based and against Kerry, we put in a really good shift and were unlucky not to get the win. Against Wexford, we were unhappy with our performance but were lucky to get the draw so it all evens out really. As things are going, we will take those two points and see what we can take from those games, both the good and the bad, and put that into practice against Cavan on Saturday”.
It is a time of year when teams are setting out goals for the 2019 season, and Collins says the Clare ladies footballers are pitching a high bar in terms of what they are looking for out of the year.
“We want to retain our status in Division 2 and if we can, push on to the knockout stages. We want to win a Munster title, and get back to Croke Park at the end of the year. What you really want to see is that the players take the experience from the year, because they are quite young, and use that to push on the following year again. Once they are continuously improving, and they will as long as they are willing to learn. We like to play football and we like to see it played openly and free-flowing and attacking as much as you can. You need hard work from everyone involved, and we are lucky because our backroom team have a great knowledge of ladies football and I find myself learning from them as we go through the year too. We all work really well together and everyone pools their opinions together to get the best outcomes, so hopefully that can continue” said the Cork man.