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Banner Ladies Eva ODea in action against Kilmurry Ibrickanes Joanna Doohan

O’Dea hoping to avoid pain of final defeat

With Banner Ladies the dominant force in Clare ladies football, the defeats, however few they are can seem easier to recall than the successes.
Few gave Kilmihil a chance of upsetting the odds in 2019 when they faced Banner Ladies in the final for the fourth year in a row. However, the East Clare side produced a display filled with courage and grit as they dethroned a Banner Ladies outfit aiming for nine county titles in a row.
Banner Ladies manager JJ O’Dea is hoping to avoid the hurt felt by his charges two years ago.
“That defeat hurt us badly. It really hurt. The worst thing was we felt we didn’t put in a performance that we would expect of ourselves so that made it hard to take. Our eye is on the ball this year. We hope to have a good day in Doonbeg and play our attacking brad of football. We want to move the ball fast and go at them on Sunday.”
Niamh O’Dea is doubtful with an ankle injury while Laurie Ryan is also nursing an ankle complaint.
Despite gaining a measure of revenge when overcoming Kilmihil in the 2020 semi final and beating them in the group stages this year, O’Dea is braced for a different test this Sunday.
“They will have a big support behind them in Doonbeg. That can really lift a team. They are a different team to when we played them in the round robin. Both sides were through so we can’t base anything off that game. They have a serious ladies football team and great youth coming through so we know we have to be at our best to come through.”
O’Dea admits with camogie and ladies football running on the same weekend that it has been difficult at times to keep players fit.
“It hasn’t been easy between the two (camogie and ladies football). Player welfare is important and these girls would have summer jobs and college so it can be hard on them with games on both days. With COVID, I know it has been tougher this year but hopefully progress can be made going forward.”
The Banner Ladies manager has been forced to shuffle the deck with greater regularity this year with a large volume of games in a quick period of time. He believes that despite his side racking up some large scores, it will be working hard without the ball that will be the key to success.
“This is a 50-50 game. You have to show up on the day. We need to take our scores but in order for us to be in a position to do that, we have to make the hard tackles and win the dirty ball.
“Our first line of defence is our full forward line so we need to work hard in Doonbeg if we are to come out on top. No one will hand you a county final. You have to earn it.”

by Ivan Smyth

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