Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 1 Round 2
Clare v Limerick at Fr McNamara Park Ennis, Saturday 4pm
(Justin Heffernan, Wexford)
The perfect winner-takes-all showdown for a Division 1 Semi-Final spot as Clare and Limerick renew rivalries for the first time in 28 months. At the time, Limerick, two years on from a historic Munster Senior Championship success, were the ones looking to make the breakthrough into the top four in the country and duly demonstrated that with a comprehensive 1-14 to 0-10 victory on home soil.
Coming only three matches into Ger O’Connell’s reign, it was also the ideal eye-opener of how far Clare needed to develop in terms of physicality, movement and scoring prowess. Almost two and a half years on and the roles are completely reversed as Clare, off the back of an encouraging League and Championship campaign in which they contested the All-Ireland Quarter-Finals, are bidding to dine at the top table. That evolution of physicality and strength-in-depth was already welcomingly evident against 2019 All-Ireland winners Galway in Athenry last Saturday. So while Clare are tired of even the mention of moral victories, it will still be viewed as a significant step forward in terms of being able to legitimately match up against one of camogie’s current kingpins.
Meanwhile, with only one competitive victory in six matches last season, Limerick have turned to Pat Ryan to become their fifth manager in only four seasons. Indeed, the Knockainey native already displayed a new rejuvenated buoyancy when guiding Limerick’s second string to a six point win over the Banner so Ger O’Connell and Co. cannot say they haven’t been forewarned.
Consequently, Clare will be expecting an ambush but with a tough evaluation already under their belts along the familiarity of Fr Mc Park, the hosts should still be able to withstand anything than their revitalised neighbours can throw at them.
Must-win for Clare
Division 3 Group 2 Round 2
Clare v Waterford at
Fr McNamara Park Ennis,
Saturday 1pm (Enda Loughnane, Galway)
Thanks to a timely reality check against Limerick last Saturday, the objective is very clear for the remainder of the league. It’s must-win territory now against Waterford and Carlow and perhaps those heightened stakes can spark Clare into action this weekend.
2019 All-Ireland finalists Limerick, led by a five point half from Aine Cunningham, was an expectedly difficult assignment but with no room left for error, a first home tie since that ill-fated All-Ireland Championship opening victory over Offaly last October couldn’t have come at a better time.
In addition, Ann-Marie McGann and Tim McGrath’s side will require no additional motivation against Waterford after the fellow second string caused an upset at the same venue in the 2019 Munster Junior Championship Semi-Final. With the Deise falling by ten points to Carlow on Saturday despite being at home, Clare will arguably never get a better opportunity to get back on track and finally kickstart their season.
By Eoin Brennan