Clare go in search of a first ever All-Ireland Minor A camogie title this weekend when they face Cork in the 2019 decider.
It is the fifth time Clare have reached this stage of the championship, and the second time in the last three years. 2017 saw Galway come out on top, but Clare bounced back to reach the last four 12 months later, when Saturday’s opponents brought the curtain down on their season. It is the first time these sides will have squared off in the showpiece event, as Cork go in search of just their second title at the grade.
Inagh/Kilnamona clubman Eugene Foudy has been a part of this minor management team for the last four seasons, and makes no apologies for wanting to go on step better than they have to date. He feels the win over Tipperary in the semi-final is something they will take huge confidence from.
“Victories don’t come much sweeter than that. Huge credit is due to Lorna McNamara for the way she kept her cool to slot that free deep into injury-time. Overall, it was a victory we deserved. I felt we were the better team and were just unlucky to concede the goal when we were three points up. A lot of teams would have dropped their heads when that goal went in but this group didn’t. They were composed and worked the ball up the field to create that last chance so there’s massive credit owed to them. From the word go, we were ahead throughout the game and the girls battled back brilliantly when that went in” he noted.
There was a real sense of the strength in depth of this panel as the substitutes who were called into action all made their impact on the game. It was typified by Lorna McNamara who notched 0-2 while Finia O’Brien added a crucial score late on. Foudy says having that type of talent available has been vital all year.
“We have serious competition for places in this team all through the season. Finia was starting earlier on in the championship and is there by merit. She has put her head down and earned her place back to come in and make a difference. Lorna is just back from injury so she hadn’t really played all year and is only coming back into full fitness now. We got 30 minutes out of her today and that will just build up her fitness now again” said Foudy.
While Clare were celebrating their success on the field in Gort on Saturday afternoon, the other semi-final between Cork and Kilkenny was heading toward the half-way point. Nobody was interested in checking how that game was going, as the focus was on the achievements of the squad in saffron and blue. Foudy admits there is now a sense of tunnel vision for this group ahead of Saturday’s final.
He said: “This week now we will just put our heads down, forget about all the sideshows and just focus on what we have to do. It would be great to bring an All-Ireland title back to Clare. This is my fourth year involved with the Clare minor camogie squad. We were beaten last year in the semi-final so this time around I really want this group to win. It is a very difficult year. We started training last October and most of the girls are coming in for their first year. They’re training through all the worst of conditions and the worst of weather. We have gotten huge support from Clarecastle GAA Club and John Minogue in St Flannan’s who has helped us with the provision of facilities and allowed us to work toward getting the team to this level. The girls have put in the hard yards on the dark cold nights when there’s frost on the roads and parents are driving them all over the countryside for training and matches and it’s brilliant to have that support. For the girls themselves it is a learning curve and their first year in at minor level is tough so it takes that first 12 months to acclimatise to it. The girls that are with us this year who aren’t seeing game time are the ones who will be there next year to lead that group so it’s all about making sure everyone is getting the most out of it, and hopefully they can get their reward on Saturday”.
Throw in this afternoon in McDonagh Park Nenagh is at 3pm.