*All clubs pictured at the championship launch on Monday evening. Photograph: Aidan Ryan

FRESH FROM Clare’s All-Ireland triumph in the Premier Junior Camogie Championship, attention swiftly moves to the club scene with the race beginning in earnest for the local championships.

This year’s camogie championships are sponsored by Clare Credit Unions.

Scariff/Ogonnelloe bid to retain the McMahon Cup and get their campaign underway against Newmarket-on-Fergus, a side reeling from the absence of the experienced trio of Roisin McMahon, Aimee McInerney and Aine O’Brien. Victorious captain last year, Amy Barrett is currently based in the UK and will have a reduced involvement with Scariff/Ogonnelloe this season.

Group B also pits Inagh/Kilnamona against Kilkishen/Bodyke in the opening round. Eugene Foudy’s return as manager of Inamona is a statement in itself of their ambition to win a first county title since 2020. Kilkishen/Bodyke are determined to make amends from their first round loss to Inagh/Kilnamona last season, a result they feel thwarted their efforts of making back to back semi-finals.

Sixmilebridge are waiting in the long grass and will use this weekend as a study exercise. Cratloe’s Máire McGrath is no longer with The Bridge this season while Deanna Considine also departing along with former Clare minor centre back Emma Kennedy.

In Group A, last year’s beaten finalists Truagh/Clonlara are struggling with an ACL epidemic which currently has sidelined Clare attacker Eimear Kelly and first-choice full-back Michelle Powell. There is still plenty of hunger within the side as they bid to win a first title at this grade. They meet a Kilmaley side who are dark horses in this year’s championship, Niamh O’Dea captains the side while Shonagh Enright returns to their ranks with the Carmody sisters expected to play key roles.

Winners of last year’s intermediate crown, Clarecastle/Ballyea focus on keeping their senior status and they are managed by ex Clare boss Patsy Fahey. They have the talent to match other teams in this group and their first two games against Feakle/Killanena and Clooney/Quin are vital. Feakle/Killanena have shown promise but have yet to properly deliver at the top table, the back to back Senior B champions are focused on being in the shake-up for honours this year.

Last year was about acclimatising back to the senior ranks for Clooney/Quin who have now strengthened their management and will quietly fancy their chances of taking a scalp. They are not in action until Wednesday but will be raring for road.

Group A:

Feakle/Killanena
Management: Michael Helebert (manager), Pauline McNamara (selector), Tony Nelson (selector), Jim Loughnane (selector), Carmel McGrath (selector)
Captain: Regan Conway
Key player: Lorna McNamara
One to watch: Shauna Canny
Fresh Blood: N/A
Departures Gate: Evelyn Duggan, Aoife Tuohy
Last season’s run: Won the Senior B title for the second year in a row

“We won the Senior B last year, we’re hoping to go a step further but we’re in a very tough group, we’ve the intermediate champions, the county finalists, Clooney/Quin and Kilmaley who have a rake of county players and should have been in a county final last year”.

Zi Yan Spillane. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

“The girls have been working hard and we’ll take it game by game, we’ve a huge game on Friday evening against the intermediate champions, we know that it is very hard to win the intermediate so they’re going to be a huge challenge”. – Tony Nelson (selector)

Truagh/Clonlara:
Management: Bob Caulfield, Cathy Halley, Ken Haskett, Owen Fitzgerald, Emmett Browne, Ryan Morris, John Conlon, Eamon Noonan.
Joint Captains: Laura Foley & Michelle Caulfield
Key Player: Michelle Caulfield
One to Watch: Aoibhin Marren
Fresh Blood: N/A
Departures Gate: Eimear Kelly (ACL), Michelle Powell (ACL), Rebecca Foley, Sinead Ryan (ACL), Lauren Slater
Last season’s run: Defeated in the county final to Scariff/Ogonnelloe

“We will use last year as motivation and learn from all the games, we’re buzzing to get started this week”.

“We’re determined to start with a win but we will see how Friday goes”.

“All games in our group will be tough, we played Kilmaley in last year’s semi-final and it was very close, a great game between the two of us and we expect the same again on Friday”.

Áine O’Loughlin. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

“We’re doing it for the girls that are injured this year, we’re using it as motivation, other girls will stand up to fill in the places and if anything we’re driven to do it for the girls that are missing”. – Sinead Ryan (player)

Clooney/Quin:
Management: Eoin Gallagher (manager), Marty Toher (selector), Patsy Grogan (selector), Mike Murphy (selector), Mike Duggan (selector), Kathleen Doyle (physio), Fiona Quinn (administration)
Captain: Aisling Corbett
Key Player: Orlaith Duggan
One to Watch: Caoimhe Leamy
Fresh Blood: Aisling Corbett, Orna Moynihan, Saoirse Brennan, Rachel Conneealy, Ellie Doyle, Bebhinn Gallagher, Claire Halpin, Megan Hassett, Caoimhe Leamy, Ciara O’Dwyer, Poppy Rees, Aoife Toher, Sive Timmons.
Departures Gate:
Last season’s run: Retained status by defeating St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield in relegation play/off.

“We’re expecting a battle, we’ve had a few years where we’ve been working hard in training to get back up to the standard that we want to be playing at”.

“Key for us is having the experience of people that have played in county finals, unfortunately we didn’t come out on the right side but that experience will really stand to us”.

Ciara Grogan clears her lines. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

“We’ve been training since January in the cold winter nights so we’re ready for challenging games and no doubt when we meet Clarecastle/Ballyea in our first game it will be a real battle but I think we’re prepared for it, we’ve put the work in and we’re really looking forward to it. We’re not expecting an easy game, they have superb players and will really test us but I’m hoping we can put two points on the board”. – Aisling Corbett (captain)

Clarecastle/Ballyea
Management: Patsy Fahey (manager), Jason McCarthy (selector), Martin O’Connor (selector), Ned Scanlon (selector), Kitty Talty (backroom), Joan Browne (backroom), Catherine Carmody (backroom), Mary Kearney (backroom), Bernie Regan (medical)
Joint captains: Carol Browne and Doireann Murphy
Key Player: Doireann Murphy
One to Watch: Evie Scanlon
Fresh Blood: Evie Scanlon, Zoe Ellingstad
Departures Gate: N/A
Last season’s run: Won the intermediate championship.

“Coming up from intermediate, keeping our senior status is the key in all of this, you don’t want to be a yoyo club, I know myself from being involved in other clubs in intermediate that it is hugely difficult to get out of intermediate so what the girls did last year in winning the intermediate being in knockout matches for two or three in the group, semi-final and then a final, to do that against the calibre of teams that they beat in Whitegate and Tulla in the knockout stages was outstanding. They have a winning mentality but we have a tough group, Feakle/Killanena and Truagh/Clonlara are both in our group, Kilmaley aren’t far off them and ourselves and Clooney/Quin would be seen as the two battling it out for the bottom, that’s to be honest. I don’t know what is happening in Clooney but they have ambitions and we have ambitions, when you’re an underdog you have a chance to take down a big fish”.

Doireann Murphy. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

“I’m 100 percent confident we can retain our senior status, we’ve fantastic stick players, Doireann is the county goalkeeper but is the forward line for us, she oozes class, Hannah Mai Neylon was on the Junior panel another good stick player, we have potential but it is all about finding our feet in senior and being up to speed, the key is to be aggressive, are we fit enough, other teams will be more seasoned than us at this grace which is pacier, quicker and the intensity is much stronger than intermediate so we will have to find our feet quickly. It comes thick and fast, it is a very difficult schedule, we’ve a lot of underage girls and they’re playing minor too plus football so it’s very difficult to manage it all”. – Patsy Fahey (manager)

Kilmaley
Management: Kieran Dillon (joint manager), Dermot Maher (joint manager), Seamus Murphy (coach), Marie Hehir (selector), Siobhán Maher (selector), Eva Moynan (physio)
Captain: Niamh O’Dea
Key Player: Niamh O’Dea
One to Watch: Caoimhe Cahill
Fresh Blood: Ava McGuane
Departures Gate: Chloe McAleer (travelling), Alisha Pyne (travelling), Lauren McGuane (travelling), Rebecca Cahill (travelling), Aishling Cahill (travelling), Ailish Considine (AWFL contract), Claire McMahon (maternity leave)
Last season’s run: Defeated by Truagh/Clonlara in the semi-finals.

“We’ve a Junior team this year so we’re trying to integrate younger players into that and get them used to adult camogie and more than anything not lose them from camogie and keep them so that in a couple of years time they can play senior because it is a big step from underage camogie to senior and unless you’re exceptional you are not going to make it. Our thinking is if we have the junior team we will keep them playing camogie for a few years so they will either make the step up or keep playing and it will encourage younger players to see a pathway”.

Caoimhe Carmody. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

“We were disappointed and happy with how we got on last year, we performed better than most people expected, we were in a bit of disarray earlier on in the year but we knuckled down for championship so we got good performances more than good results. We were disappointed with our performance against Truagh/Clonlara, we didn’t hurl in the first half but in the second half we pressed them but we held out, in hindsight we over achieved, people weren’t expecting us to be as dogged as we were. It is very even, you can toss a coin for a lot of games”. – Seamus Murphy (coach).

Group B:

Scariff/Ogonnelloe:
Management: Alphie Rodgers (manager) Pat Minogue (selector), Alan Gorman (coach), David Kennedy (video analysis), Mike Beddows (S&C)
Captain: Ciara Doyle
Vice Captain: Aoife Power (VC)
Key Player: Ciara Doyle
One to Watch: Eimear Rodgers
Fresh Blood: Alison Collins, Danielle Beston, Eimear Heffernan, Seva Brennan, Eimear Rodgers
Departures Gate: Amy Barrett (based in the UK)
Last season’s run: Won back to back senior titles, defeated in Munster club final.

“We managed to win back to back titles last year which was a massive achievement for us, we’re only ten years old as a club so to win two back to back was a really nice achievement and very satisfying. In Munster, we were very disappointed with our second half performance in the final so we’re looking forward to starting and getting on the road again, we have Newmarket-on-Fergus up first and the last time we were knocked out of the championship it was Newmarket who knocked us out, we’re very conscious of that and we’re looking to build this year, we’ll take each game as it comes”.

Labhaoise O’Donnell. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

“They’ve displayed it before that they are a very ambitious group, we’ve set the standard very much ourselves this year, we were very pleased with how we played in spells of the county final and that is the standard we would like to play at and the level of performance we want to get to, that is the level of focus and drive we have, if we can get ourselves better we’ll be comfortable in our own skin in terms of what we are trying to achieve”. – Alphie Rodgers (manager)

Newmarket on Fergus:
Management: Darren Hayes (manager), John McInerney (selector), Tricia O’Grady (coach), Brendan Mulcaire (selector)
Joint Captains: Carol O’Leary and Katie O’Flanagan
Key Player: Ellen Casey
One to Watch: Maeve Begley
Fresh Blood: Grainne McMahon, Emma Crowe, Ava Kelly, Sammi O’Looney, Caoimhe Hegarty, Eryn O’Leary
Departures Gate: Roisin McMahon (retired), Aine O’Brien (retired), Aimee McInerney (maternity leave).
Last season’s run: Failed to get out of the group.

“We’ve been building as a club from U16s and minors up in the last few years so we have a few girls from these panels joining us this year, a lot of work has been done underage, we’re really going to be pushing for our places this year which is great to see”.

“A big loss for us is Roisin McMahon, she was injured last year and went travelling but her injury has forced her to retire which is a huge loss for us. We’ve lost Aine O’Brien but we’re hoping she might come back, they are major losses to us and also Aimee McInerney, they had huge experience on the field which is now lost to us but we’ve other girls stepping up”.

“We just need to go out and express ourselves with no nerves, play simple hurling, do the easy things right and it’s all about workrate, hooking and blocking and to make sure everyone plays to their potential”.

Roisin McMahon has retired. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

“Everyone has us written off in the last few years so we’re coming in as underdogs which will be hopefully beneficial to us for this championship. A lot of pressure has been on us in the last few years with the huge experience but now that some of them have retired and what not the pressure has eased so we might play better as an overall team. Training has been going well”.

“It’s going to be a huge task on our hands in the first game, we’re going in as massive underdogs, we’re hopeful that we can give them a game, we’re hoping to get a good start, it will all come down to the day, we’re hoping the workrate will get us through”. – Rachel Kelleher (player)

Kilkishen/Bodyke
Management: John Cooney (manager), Liam Doyle (selector), Sean Hehir (selector), Jim Lynch (selector), Kate Liddy (selector), Niamh McNamara (first aid), Marie Nash (first aid)
Joint Captains: Eilis Whitney and Alannah Ryan
Key Player: Alananh Ryan
One to Watch: Sarah Wiley
Fresh blood: Lilly Kavanagh, Sarah Wiley, Aoife Frost
Departures Gate: Kate Liddy (maternity leave), Ciara Ryan (maternity leave), Kate O’Gorman (travelling but will be back for subsequent rounds)
Last season’s run: Didn’t get out of the group

“We’ve Inagh/Kilnamona first, we drew with them last year so we’re expecting a competitive game, we’ve done a lot of work and have been training three nights a week. We’ve done a lot of extra things which we wouldn’t have done before, we’ve brought in a nutritionist and we’ve done a lot of video analysis so we think we’re really prepared for this year. Our average age is quite young but I don’t feel like we’re lacking experience because the likes of Alannah Ryan and Edel McNamara have a lot of experience, we’ve a good combination of experience and youth, the younger ones have no fear and they are well able”.

“Most of the team that contested the 2021 semi-final are still there and if anything they’ve grown up and matured, the likes of Caoimhe Kelly has got county experience behind her so she will be excellent, Rebecca Burke and Katie Frost were new that year but they have really settled into their roles which is brilliant. We’re playing more as a team than other years, working the ball through the lines and moving forward which is great”.

Kate O’Gorman is overseas but will be back for the group stages. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

“The main reason we didn’t get out of the group last year was the first round game against Inagh/Kilnamona, we drew that game and we could have beaten them, we even surprised ourselves that day so we have a bit of fire in our bellies to go out on Friday and take it on from the beginning, if we get one win under our belt I feel like we’ll get further”. – Eilish Whitney (joint captain).

Inagh/Kilnamona
Management: Eugene Foudy (manager), Flan Barry (selector) Tara Rynne (selector), Marie Kenneally (selector), Mikey Barrett (selector), Margaret Lafferty (first aid)
Joint Captains: Laura Rynne and Sinead Power
Key Player: Clare Hehir
One to Watch: Cliodhna Queally
Fresh Blood: Cliodhna Queally
Departures Gate: Sinead Quinn (overseas), Michelle Mescall (overseas)
Last season’s run: Eliminated by eventual champions Scariff/Ogonnelloe in the semi-finals.

“Everybody is hoping to come out of the group, it will be one game at a time but we want to come out of the group and see where we are after that”.

“There is a hunger within the panel, we have an experienced group with some newcomers, the girls are driving themselves, we’d be hoping to come out of the group and take it game by game. To get to the final would be the aim”.

Aoife Keane. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

“We were beaten in the league final by Truagh/Clonlara and deservedly so on the night but when the inter-county girls came back into it from senior and junior it has lifted the standard and morale when you get your own group together and the standard of training goes up with a quicker pace”.

“We’re training to get the best out of them but it is player driven, they are great girls, they are driving it but we are facilitating it”. – Marie Kenneally (selector).

Sixmilebridge
Management: Alan Whyte (joint manager), Brian Leyden (joint manager), Siobhan Ryan (selector), Martin Conlon (coach), Gerry O’Halloran (coach)
Captain: Aoife Hurley
Key Player: Chloe Morey
One to watch: Amy Chaplin
Fresh blood: Donna O’Sullivan, Samantha O’Sullivan, Maeve Egan, Emma Stanley, Kate Fitzgerald, Claire O’Grady, Grace Stafford
Departures Gate: Máire McGrath, Deanna Considine (emigrated), Emma Kennedy
Last season’s run: Didn’t get past the group stages.

“We’re expecting to be at the top this year, we’ve a bye in the opening round and face Scariff/Ogonnelloe on Wednesday. We’ll do a bit of studying this week to see how we are”.

Chloe Morey. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

“The commitment from the girls is fantastic, the positivity and leadership that we’ve seen from our captain Aoife and the girls so far is fantastic”.

“I would like to think we’re strong contenders for this year. We’re going to take it one match at a time and see how we go”. – Siobhán Ryan (selector).

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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