National Camogie League Division 3 Round 3
Carlow v Clare
at Netwatch Training Centre Fenagh, Saturday 2pm
Clare’s aim is simple when embarking on the five hour round trip to Fenagh on Saturday. There’s no need for calculators as it’s do-or-die for the visitors that will only be sated by a victory in order to advance to the Division 3 Semi-Finals.
Having consistently reached that lofty stage since taking over four years ago, joint-managers Ann-Marie McGann and Tim McGrath are arguably facing their toughest test to maintain that record against intermediate side Carlow.
Of course, Carlow last overcame Clare in the 2014 All-Ireland Junior Championship Semi-Final on their way to national glory.
It would provide the catalyst to subsequently soar to an All-Ireland Premier Junior Championship and National League Division 3 double twelve months later, but any further momentum hasn’t materialised as the Leinster side were relegated back to the third league tier for 2020.
Perennial top-scorer Ciara Quirke and defensive anchoring captain Kate Nolan are both unavailable for the home side but Clare could be without some key attacking personnel too according to Ann-Marie McGann following their victory over Waterford on Saturday.
With Limerick favourites to remain unbeaten and top the group by overcoming Waterford, all eyes will be on this showdown to realise who also joins Armagh and Wexford in the last four.
Carlow only require a positive result (win or draw) to prevail and being a flagship team, will be favourites to do so on Saturday. So in essence, it’s all comes down to which Clare side takes to the field in Carlow GAA’s Centre of Excellence, the shellshocked Banner that fell to Limerick or the more insatiable version that seized the initiative from the outset against Waterford.
Here’s hoping for the latter as in order to gather pace before the All-Ireland Championship, it will be a prerequisite to progress.
by Eoin Brennan