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Miltown LGFA captain Áine Keane & KIB LGFA captain Ciara Hickey. Pic by John Kelly

Friendships And Family Loyalties Laid Aside In Race For Clare LGFA IFC Crown

Derrick Lynch

Clare Intermediate Ladies Football Final Preview: Kilmurry Ibrickane v Miltown

There are always side stories when neighbours clash in the championship and even more so when that clash comes in a final.

It is not uncommon for cousins to clash in these occasions, with the Cleary’s and Coughlan’s being a prime example of that when these two parishes met in the 2019 senior men’s decider.

That rivalry will be going up another notch on Sunday, as Kilmurry Ibrickane captain Ciara Hickey will be plotting the downfall of a Miltown team that will include her sister Emma in the full-back line.

The siblings were united 12 months ago as the absence of a team in Kilmurry saw a number of players link up with Miltown in order to keep playing the game, and they were unlucky to lose out in a dramatic decider against Cooraclare.

The Hickeys come from a strong football family, and that determination and commitment is clear to see in how Ciara is approaching a unique situation this weekend.

“I was half tempted to move out for a while with the tension that was around the house but it brings a nice edge to it. We are both trying not to give anything away, and we are even watching how long the other spends at training and wondering what they are doing. It will be an interesting few days now before the final but we will head down together in the same car and maybe go to the beach for a walk before it. We will wish each other the best of luck once we get out of the car and that will be it then until the game is over. There will be one Hickey sister who will have lost two county finals in a row and I just hope it is not me” she laughed.

For Miltown captain Áine Keane, it is more of a straightforward approach as she will be lining out beside her twin sister Eimear in their bid to make up for last year’s final heartbreak.

The siblings have been a key part in Miltown’s progress over the last few years and were also part of the Clare side that won the All-Ireland Minor B title in 2017.

Áine says they are glad to have another chance at claiming county honours.

“It is brilliant to be in another county final and any year you get to a final is a good one. Last year was tough to take but it is great to have that buzz of a county final back again. I think we are all grateful to have that chance too after everything that has happened and it is a bonus to just be back playing football so to have a final to look forward to is extra special and it is where you want to be. 2015 was my first year on the panel and there is a real change since then. We are quite young at the moment and it is mad to think that I am considered one of the older ones now. We have that real element of youth mixed with a bit of experience so the squad is in a good place at the moment. There is a real buzz around the place and people are looking forward to it” she noted.

Kilmurry have made huge strides in 2020 under the watch of Evan Talty and Enda Coughlan, with the Bricks starting to build after victory in the Sile Callinan Memorial 7’s Tournament last year. Hickey admits winning the competition was a key moment in getting the team reformed.

“We went from having no team last year to now being in an intermediate county final this year so we can only take positives from that. We had a lot of girls coming back to be involved and there is a lot of interest being shown in it with new management and new training methods so it is all positive. Winning the Sile Callinan tournament was great for us and it showed that we have the players in the parish to compete and once more people started showing the interest it was all we could ask for. We set out to win games at all times and that is what we have concentrated on. It has been all about getting the right performances together to make sure that we do that” she said.

With a number of the Kilmurry players having played a key role in Miltown’s march to last year’s final, Keane outlined that facing 2020 without them took some time to adjust to.

“Kilmurry have some huge experience behind them with girls who have played in massive occasions. As soon as you hit a final, all that experience is great to have but it all comes down to 60 minutes of hard football and whoever wants it more on the day. Experience is one thing, but the likes of Kilmurry also have some really classy players so it is going to be very difficult. You would have nothing but the utmost respect for the girls who played with us last year and we know how good they are and how much of a bonus they are going to be to Kilmurry on Sunday” she stated.

Hickey also stated that while there is a great bond between the two squads off the field, it will all be forgotten about in the pursuit of glory on Sunday.

“There is definitely that rivalry there, particularly with a few of us playing with them last year. We would have formed that bond with them but that will be forgotten about the minute we hit the field on Sunday. We are great friends with them outside of the field but once the ball is thrown in, you even forget about your relatives on the field” she grinned.

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