LIKE their hurlers, Kilkenny camogie teams have dominated the inter-county scene over the years.
In the past decade, however, they have had to watch as Cork, Wexford and, last year, Galway held the upperhand in the championship. They were never very far away though and in the past year or two, Kilkenny have been close to regaining the top spot. They contested the All-Ireland final last year with a relatively young and skillful side and they have followed up on that progress by reaching Sunday’s league final without dropping a point.
Clare have also made a lot of progress, winning honours at U-16 and minor level. Two years ago, they won the Munster senior title but, so far, they have struggled in the championship.
This season, the Banner outfit has improved with every outing and are deserving of their place in Sunday’s final, the first time that a team from the county will contest this decider.
Team manager Colm Honan, an All-star hurler in 1978, is in his first season as manager of the side. He isn’t bothered by the fact Kilkenny hold the favourites’ tag ahead of Sunday’s decider. It’s all about confidence.
“We are every bit as good as Kilkenny. I’ve said it from the start, the one thing that will stop players is confidence. There are no barriers and no limits to what they can do,” Honan said.
Certainly, the team has played with growing confidence in recent weeks and, if they continue in this form, they have every chance of creating history.
In Edwina Keane, Ann Dalton, Denise Gaule, Michelle Quilty and Aoife Neary, the Leinster outfit has top class players and their supporters will be looking to them to give them an edge.
That said, Máire McGrath, Chloe Morey, Niamh O’Dea, Kate Lynch, Deirdre Murphy and Fiona Lafferty can hold their own against any opposition.
Playing in Semple Stadium in the curtain raiser to the National Hurling League final between the Premier County and the Noresiders, it’s a huge occasion for Clare. Given that Kilkenny will also be playing in the hurling decider, the Leinster county is likely to have the bigger following on the day.
Kilkenny won when the teams met in the group stage, which entitles them to the favourites’ tag, however, Clare have shown huge improvement throughout the campaign and they have every reason to approach Sunday’s game with confidence. The throw-in is at 1.30pm.