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Ladies to get league ­campaign underway

If the Clare lady footballers are to make a winning start to their 2010 Division 2 league campaign, they will have to overcome the loss of several experienced players.
In fact, 11 of Clare’s All-Ireland intermediate winning panel will be unavailable for Sunday’s opening league match against Armagh in Shannon at 1pm on Sunday.
Goalkeeper and 2009 All-Star nominee Denise Walsh has retired, as have Majella Griffin and Eithne Morrissey. All three will be significant losses as Clare seek to follow their intermediate All-Ireland winning season with a successful 2010 league and senior championship campaign.
Clare’s All-Ireland winning half-back line is also out of action this weekend, although Michelle Delaney, Sineád Kelly and Leaving Certificate pupil Louise Woods will return to the panel in the coming weeks.
Midfielder Fiona Lafferty is laid up with a shoulder injury, while Sandra Malone, Stephanie Regan, Grace Lynch, Niamh Coyne, Siobhán Lafferty, Sarah Bohannon, Carmel Considine and Anne Marie Callinan are not part of the current panel for varying reasons, including emigration, exams and retirement.
Sinéad Eustace will captain the backs while Niamh Keane will lead the forwards for the league. A full-time captain is likely to be appointed closer to championship.
Clare are due to play Down (February 14); Tipperary (February 21); Kildare (March 7); Donegal (March 13); Meath (March 28) and Sligo (April 11) in their other league fixtures.
The county played Division 1 football in 2009 and retained their status. However, the league format was changed for the coming season, thereby relegating Clare to Division 2.
Meanwhile, the Bord Gáis Energy Team of the League awards return for the new season, with the top performers in each position selected in a dream team for their respective divisions.
In addition, a new manager-of-the-month scheme is to be introduced in 2010, which will cover all four divisions. The scheme has been established to recognise the achievements of the inter-county managers and a manager of the league award will be presented at the end of the league campaign.

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