Orlaith Duggan was not expecting it when she was approached and asked to be the Clare senior camogie captain.
“It’s a great honour to captain any team and a very big honour to captain one’s county senior side. I was, of course, delighted to be considered but it was something that I wasn’t expecting,” the 22-year-old told The Clare Champion last week, as she took a break from training ahead of the opening game of the All-Ireland championship against Ofally.
Born into a well-known Clooney-Quin family, Orlaith readily acknowledges, “It’s a really sporting house and my family are delighted for me. They are really supportive”.
Ahead of Saturday’s opening tie, she said, “We put in the hard weeks; we did the tough winter training, the circuits, the running. This is the time all camogie players and hurlers look forward to – the championship. We are looking at five weeks in a row. Everyone wants to be playing matches, trying to show that the work we have done has paid off.”
Acknowledging that it is a demanding programme, with five games in five weeks, she said, “We have to mind ourselves and make sure we recover well after games. That’s why we have a big panel. We have a good base, with a lot of young players coming in. We are really focussing on the Offaly game.”
Orlaith believes Clare has got the “tougher of the two groups”. However, she noted, “This team has huge ambitions. We want to be contesting and winning an All-Ireland final and you have to beat every team along the way to do that. We are going to have to beat them all and we are looking forward to the challenge. The first game is very important and we are not looking beyond the Offaly challenge at this time.”
She believes that the success that Clare has enjoyed at underage level is a great boost. “We have had great success at underage level and, this year, two of our secondary schools have won all-Ireland titles. There is great work being done. We were very successful at underage and that is now the foundation of the senior team.”
She is delighted that “most of the players are available this summer and everyone has committed fully to the team”.
“We won a Munster final in 2012 and got to a league final in 2014. We have shown snippets of what we can do but we have never really powered through in any one year, which is what we really aim to do this year – get a good run at games.”
Like any captain, Orlaith dreams of leading her county to victory but she also dreams of being part of a Clooney-Quin team that will win a Clare senior title. “That’s 100% true. It’s no secret Clooney-Quin would love to win a senior title. I love going back to the club. There is a really good strong group there and you are not a county player coming in.
“People in the club work really hard and it was really tough losing three finals in a row. It’s hard to keep going. Players are getting older but they are working really hard. Hopefully, this will be our year,” she said of the upcoming club championship.
“The dream is to win with club and county and I will be pinching myself then but, for now, the focus is on Offaly and Saturday’s first-round game,” the Clare captain concluded.