*Captain Clare Hehir. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

BANNER LADIES winning a fourteenth title came down to getting their match-ups right, victorious manager JJ O’Dea said.

Kilfenora native O’Dea has been at the helm for all fourteen of the Ennis club’s successes in the senior ladies football championship. “I think we got our match ups right today. We knew West Clare Gaels had a young team. From the word go our girls were on the ball. They were just ready for it and when you are ready for a game nothing will get past you”.

Squad development has been important for retaining the title, this time round. “At the start of the year a lot of our girls went travelling, they went to Australia, New Zealand, Dubai and other places. We had no problem with them going, football is only a game and we were delighted to see them going. We had a squad, we brought on four or five from last year. You saw today that we have a squad and we used them and they came up trumps for us”.

West Clare Gaels were always going to pose a strong challenge, JJ noted. “We knew they were going to come at us, a team in the final for first time, they had to take a chance and go for it. At half time it could have been 2-6 to 0-5. I thought our defence was magnificent today”, he said referring to the fact that the winners had limited their opponents to a single point in the opening half.

Munster awaits Banner Ladies who will once again represent the county in the provincial series. “Our policy has always been the next game. You are really up against it in Munster, up against the top stuff. We didn’t even pick the team for today until the warm up as we wanted to know who was on form, that’s our policy, we have a squad, they come and go and its working for us. Long may it continue”.

Experienced defender, Louise Henchy paid tribute to their younger guns for leading the way. “The more you win the harder the fall when you don’t and we just don’t want it to end. There is huge credit due to management, there are new players brought in every year. Our backs were really to the wall today and my God did Caoimhe Cahill and Emer Burke stand up, they were brilliant”.

Assurance in each teammate has been pivotal, she said. “We have great confidence in each other. Caoimhe (Harvey) and Fidelma (Marrinan) are exceptional players and they never let us relax, it was end to end even though the score might not reflect that. It’s a huge task to go into Munster”.

Niamh O’Dea remains a central figure in their attack. She said, “Louise said to me during the week we play competitive sport for a reason and you never get sick of winning. We all enjoy playing. Remember some were winning their first title today, some their second and some their third. There are always new girls coming in and their drive and hunger help push on the standard, there is always great battles at training. We are all great friends on and off the field and we all enjoy playing”.

A prominent dual player she acknowledged that it has been “football and camogie every second weekend since last November. We love it and what else would you be doing on a Saturday afternoon. It’s a joy to see Clare (Hehir), one of my best friends, up there receiving the cup. We will turn over the page now and be back training on Thursday night ahead of the Munster championship. We will continue with one game at a time approach”.

 

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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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