*Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
It will be a gala occasion for Clare ladies football on this Saturday at Miltown when the senior championship final will be the centrepiece.
Hennessy Memorial Park in Miltown Malbnay has been chosen as the venue as it was here, forty years ago, that the Clare ladies football association was formed.
Clonbony and Michael Cusacks were the first finalists with Clonbony winning by a point and the members of both teams will be present on Saturday along with the referee of that game, Maureen Davoran.
In this year’s senior final Banner Ladies will be chasing title number 14 having won their first back in 2008. They retained the crown in 2009 but were denied a third title in a row in 2010 by West Clare Gaels who will provide the opposition this year.
Banner Ladies were back as champions in 2011 and they went on to win eight in a row but their bid for a ninth successive title was stopped by Kilmihil in 2019. They regained the title in 2020 and on Sunday will be hoping to complete four in a row.
Manmager J.J. O’Dea has been with the team through all of their fourteen successes and six members of the panel have also been there for all fourteen wins. They are Louise Henchy, Emma O’Driscoll, Niamh Keane, Louise Woods, Laurie Ryan and Niamh O’Dea.
As they head into Saturday’s final there are doubts about Grainne Nolan and Emma O’Driscoll who are both on the injured list while Laurie Ryan may not be available due to her involvement with Athlone Town soccer team who are due to be in cup action on Saturday. Naoimi Carroll is also doubtful for Saturday due to her involvement with the Irish hockey team.
There is a wealth of experience in the Ennis side and it will be a surprise if they are not ahead at the final whistle.
West Clare Gaels will pick from a full panel as they chase their first title win in thirteen years. The team is jointly managed by Naomh Eoin footballers Gearoid Lynch and Niall Bonfil and is captained by Shauna Harvey who along with her sister Ciara played in the last title winning team. They are joined in this year’s team by their other sisters Grainne and Caoimhe while Fidelma Marrinan is the leading scorer for the West Clare outfit.
“We were last in the senior final in 2020 when the Banner won well. We won the senior B title last year”, club chairman David Nagle told The Clare Echo this week when confirming that the team will be selected from a full panel for Saturday’s eagerly awaited final.
The final takes place on Saturday at 3pm at Hennessy Park with Kilmurry Ibrickane and Kilmihil doing battle in the Senior B final at 12pm.