*Clare Hehir is expected to line out at full-back for Clare. Photograph: Sport Action Photography
Back in the All-Ireland senior camogie championship for the first time in six years, Clare have been handed a huge challenge as they have been drawn to face competition favourites Cork.
Adding to the severity of the task that the Banner girls face is the fact that they must travel to Pairc Ui Caoimh to face a team that has held the upperhand over Clare sides throughout the last decade.
This latest clash of the Munster rivals takes place at the well appointed Cork venue on this Saturday with a throw in time of 1pm and the game will be broadcast live on RTE television.
Team coach Conor Dolan accepts that Clare are facing “a huge test as Cork have set the tone for the last ten or fifteen years”.
That said Dolan stressed “getting to the quarter final was the least I expected from Clare this year. This is where Clare should be every year and anything other than getting to the quarter finals is a failure in my eyes”.
“Yes, Cork are a serious outfit. While they were beaten in the semi-final last year, they were installed as favourites for this year’s title from the outset”, he added.
Clare go into Saturday’s game able to call on a full squad. “We have a full squad available and the girls are going very well and are well up for this challenge. We are really looking forward to the game”, he said.
The game will be followed at 3.45 by another quarter final tie in which Waterford will take on Tipperary. Kilkenny and Galway await the winners of Saturday’s quarter final double bill in the semi-finals.
Dolan isn’t unduly worried about having to travel to the Cork headquarters for this tie. “It’s a superb venue but at the end of the day all fields have white lines and a set of goalposts at either end. The only pity is that the parents and families of the players and our loyal supporters cannot attend the game.
“It’s a massive day for the girls. It’s six years since we were at this stage of the competition and we have nothing to lose. All the pressure is on Cork. If we go out and enjoy it and play to our potential, there won’t be much in it at the final whistle. Training has gone well since we returned after the lockdown. The Tipperary game was the kick we needed. We have a plan and the girls are playing to it. It’s about getting the girls to believe that they are every bit as good as the others”, according to the Meelick native.
Clare will be looking to Ciara Grogan, Claire Hehir, Niamh O’Dea and Roisin McMahon in defence to limit the Cork attack’s scoring chances. Orlaith Duggan will be in midfield while up front Clare can call on the experience of team captain Laura McMahon, Chloe Morey, Maire McGrath, Eimear Kelly and Mairead Scanlan.
While Cork will wear the favourites tag, there is a buzz of excitement amongst all involved in Clare camogie this week and a belief that the Banner outfit will make the hot favourites battle all the way on Saturday.