Clare will look to retain their Munster Intermediate ladies football title this weekend when they take on Tipperary in this year’s final in Cappamore on Sunday afternoon.
James Murrihy’s outfit overcame Limerick a fortnight ago to reach the decider, and will face the Premier for the second time in recent weeks.
The Banner took the title 12 months ago after beating the Shannonsiders in what was a standalone final, but Tipperary’s return to the second tier ensured there would be some semblance of a championship in 2019.
These sides are no strangers to meeting on big days, with Tipperary coming out on top when they clashed at this stage in 2016 and 2017, and repeated the dose when they meet in the opening round of this year’s series.
Clare selector Enda O’Halloran is urging all involved to savour the occasion of a provincial final.
“Everyone knows Munster finals don’t come around every day and we have been training hard to make sure we give ourselves the best chance we can. The girls are really looking forward to having a crack at Tipperary on Sunday. We played them a few weeks ago and maybe there was an element of not really showing your full hand on the day. On our side, there were injuries there which meant that some of the girls just were not available to play and I am sure it was the same on the Tipperary side too. Both teams might have had it in their heads that they were going to possibly meet again down the road so there might have been a part of both teams that may have been holding something back. This weekend will be different because we want to make sure we make the most of the opportunity to win silverware and we will be going all out to do that” he noted.
Clare overcame Limerick in their last outing in Cusack Park on an evening when the Banner struggled to hit the heights seen earlier in the campaign. In the aftermath of that game, Clare boss James Murrihy challenged his side to raise their game for this contest with the Premier, and O’Halloran is confident they will do just that.
“That was a funny sort of a game to be honest. We went into it expecting that the performance would be better than what we got. We have looked it and reviewed the game to see what went right and what we did wrong and we have worked hard on that since. We will continue to work on it and try to fix what went wrong. If they come right for Sunday, then hopefully the performance will improve” said the Kilmihil man.
Clare are set to be without some key players for the game with some of the squad still sitting their Leaving Cert examinations. The Munster and All-Ireland series are run as independent championships, and O’Halloran feels everything is building toward the business end of the season.
He said: “If we could get this Leaving Cert out of the way we would be in a great spot. We still have a few girls available because of it but in the next few weeks we will have everyone back and there will be no more excuses. We will be driving on then to have a good crack at the championship in July. If you take the likes of Laurie Ryan, Niamh O’Dea and a few more like that out of it, it is actually quite a young squad. We have to play in the present though because you just don’t know what is coming down the road. We have a strong squad now and we would like to get as much success out of it at the moment as we can. It is a huge test on Sunday and I would say it is actually the biggest one we have faced so far this year. I know there were senior teams in the league campaign but this test against Tipperary will be serious. They have great players and we are going to have to be at our best on Sunday if we want to beat them”.