Heading in to this Sunday’s TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies Football Championship, Clare manager Evan Talty admits his side are trying to replicate the success of the county’s camogie side.
With Clare travelling to face Down this Sunday, Talty wants his charges to show the same grit and determination during their Championship campaign that the camogie side have displayed thus far.
In recent weeks, John Carmody and Conor Dolan’s side have pushed last year’s All Ireland finalists Cork to extra time in the Munster final, eventually losing 0-24 to 1-18.
Then they struck the final two points of the game to pick up a share of the spoils against Tipperary in the opening round of the Glen Dimplex Senior Camogie Championship last weekend.
The Kilmurry-Ibrickane clubman wants his side to show the same mettle in this Championship campaign, starting with Sunday’s tricky away assignment.
“I’d have a good relationship with Conor (Dolan) with us having dual players. The Camogie team have a small squad with the crossing over with junior but they get on with the task at hand. I’d love for us to die with our boots on like them.”
“They have got bags of mental strength and you get nothing easy off them. They are coming up against the best teams while at the moment we aren’t due to playing Intermediate. We want to mix it with the best but that starts against Down.”
“If you look at the camogie, hurlers and the footballers they are all very hard workers and there’s no egos there. We want to show that we’re the same and that we can get results.”
Roisin Considine and Carol O’Leary have rejoined the panel while Roisin Looney looks set to miss the entire campaign with a shoulder injury. Caitriona Callinan (ankle) and Chloe Moloney (quad) are fitness concerns.
Talty will be left hoping that none of the dual players pick up any knocks when featuring for Clare against Cork in the second round of the Camogie Championship.
After suffering relegation to Division Three of the LIDL National League, Clare have responded in style by beating Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo in the Connacht Championship.
Despite winning all their games, Clare were not permitted to compete in the provincial final. However, the nine times Clare SFC winner with The ‘Bricks feels the competition was an excellent way to ramp up their preparations for the All Ireland series.
“Connacht was brilliant for us. We were mixing with senior teams in Division Two. We were trying to be competitive, play these senior teams, try new players and implement a system. The performances weren’t bad. In Connacht we were playing teams of a similar standard.”
“We’ve seen with the hurling that Cork and Waterford peaked for the league. It’s hard to keep that intensity up. We came back in January a bit late after a long year last year. We used the league as a stepping stone before we ramped up our preparations in the Connacht Championship and now we are hoping to peak against Down.”
The search for consistency has been at times frustrating with Clare trying to tighten up their defence while continuing to feed their talented attacking unit with a quality supply of possession.
The Clare manager knows his side have to build on their improved defensive showings this year while more importantly grinding out results.
“We are looking for consistency. It’s something we’ve struggled with recently. With the Dublins and Meaths you know what you will get each game. We can possibly beat the best teams but then lose to the ones lower down the divisions. It’s up to us to start the Championship well and get that consistency from the beginning.”
Starting a Championship campaign with a win has proven problematic for Clare in recent years. They last secured an opening round Championship win in 2018 with the last three campaigns seeing them suffer first round defeats.
If they are to avoid another opening round loss, then they will need their performance of the year against a dangerous Down outfit that will feel they should have secured promotion to Division Two.
“They have pace and physicality like Tyrone. They are dangerous on the counter attack so we have to be careful. It is a daunting task for 19, 20, 21 year olds but this is character building. We want to build mental strength and confidence so we are under no illusions as to the size of the task ahead.”
“With Natasha Ferris and Meghan Doherty, they have some of the best players in the country. It’s a five hour bus trip so it’s backs to the wall for us. We’ve lost the first game of every Championship since ’18 so it will be a big test for us.”