At just 19 years old, you could be forgiven for thinking that Caoimhe Harvey is only finding her feet at inter-county level.
The young West Clare Gaels woman is nearly moving toward the veteran stage though, as she enters a fourth season being involved at adult level. She’s no stranger to success either at both club and county level, and was a key member of the Clare minor side who won the All Ireland B title in 2017, along with several underage and adult titles with West Clare Gaels.
She is joined once more on the Clare panel by her sisters Grainne and Ciara, with Ciara handed the vice-captain role along with Niamh O’Dea.
Caoimhe admits everyone in the squad is looking forward to getting the campaign underway.
“We started training at the end of November and then found out we had Kerry in the first round. No matter what team takes on Kerry, it’s going to be a tough assignment. We are delighted to be playing them this year, they are newly relegated so you never know how they will react to that. It’s a big day for us now in Doonbeg on Sunday. Whatever the outcome of the game is, we can use Sunday as a learning curve for the whole squad and use that then to build on as the year progresses. We have Wexford in game two, so having such a high quality opponent in the opening round means that our heads will have to be right, and we will need to be tuned in and focused. It will be a great battle I think” said Caoimhe.
The Athlone IT student was part of the Clare panel that reached the last four of the National League in 2016 and 2017, and she’s confident they can reach that goal again this season.
“We have experience of reaching that stage of the campaign in the last few years, so this year we would be hoping to get back there again. It’s been great for the squad to be competing in Division Two, but trying to get promotion to the top tier would certainly be an aim for us. It will be great preparation for championship and we are glad to be able to operate at this level. Playing the stronger teams can really help us grow for the year ahead, and that was never more apt than this year. We have the likes of Tipperary who are back down to intermediate this year, and there are going to be some really tough teams for us to come up against in the championship. Playing in Division Two before that means we will be constantly improving our football and the pace at which we do things and see where we go from there” she noted.
The addition of DJ Collins to the Clare coaching ticket has been hailed as a huge coup for the Banner with the former Mayo and Monaghan coach bringing a wealth of experience to the role. A number of new players have also joined the panel and Harvey says everyone is working hard to ensure it will be a positive year ahead.
She said: “We have a lot of minors brought on to the panel and a lot of newer girls around the 18 or 19 year old mark so the squad is really good this year and there’s a great mood around the camp. We are delighted to have DJ involved with us, he is a very good trainer and it’s great having different voices around the camp. They are bringing different ideas and different games plans for us to work on which is brilliant. We feel we have prepared really well this year and I think we are really set up for a good year”.
James Murrihy’s side face two tough games on the road after Sunday’s clash with the Kingdom, as they go to Wexford and Cavan before a home game against Laois. Caoimhe feels the squad are ready to take on whatever challenge lies ahead.
“The vibe is very good this year. Girls are training really well, even though over Christmas with work and things like that, it can be hard to get the training in, but everyone has made a huge effort in that regard. Management have been brilliant as well in terms of being flexible when issues like that come up, but everyone has the head down now and there’s one clear goal for the whole squad. League is one thing, but we want to get to Croke Park at the end of the year. Everyone is so focused on that and that is our main objective and our main goal for the whole season. We have been working really hard since November and it’s probably the first year that everyone is on board and we have all the same target. Having the younger girls come into the panel has been brilliant, and I suppose I am only one of the younger ones too, even though it’s my fourth year playing Clare Ladies football. Every year we are building more and more experience, and there’s just a really positive outlook now for 2019” she concluded.