Amy Sexton offloads while Áine Kelly closes in. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

CLARE’s ladies footballers are going “all guns blazing” for success in Division 3 of the Lidl Ladies Football National League.

Promotion has been secured by Wayne Freeman’s charges with a game to spare. They face Down this Sunday in a tie that unfortunately doesn’t serve as a curtain raiser to the clash of the counties in the Allianz National Football League.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Wayne admitted that promotion was never discussed amongst a group but that a determination existed to atone for their losses to Kildare in both the All-Ireland and league finals last season. “We never spoke about promotion, we spoke about winning the league and getting silverware. We left it behind us last year and we were very upset about that – it probably inspired us to having a good championship – but it’s still something that sits with us.

“We look back on both of them big games last year, in the All Ireland final we didn’t perform as well as we would have liked but we played well in the league final and actually left it behind us so it’s something we’ve been gunning for from the beginning of the year so we’ll be going for it all guns blazing”.

On St Patrick’s Day in Gurteen, Clare recorded a thirty point win over Antrim, the rout came as a surprise given how close the counties were in the 2023 All-Ireland semi-final. “They’ve lost a few this year, as did we. But they lost a core from their forward line so it’s been a difficult campaign for them but we showed them a lot of respect in how we prepared because they’ve ran a lot of teams close and could have pipped them which would have put them in a different position and given more confidence. They’re probably a side low on confidence and we’re a side playing with a lot of confidence and sometimes that can be the difference”.

Freeman reflected, “Especially in the opening 15 minutes, we were flying around the place, we looked like we were playing on astro, we were going that well and got a couple of early goals. We put them under pressure on their kick-out, we really worked on getting set up with the press, it worked a treat because they were so aggressive. That’s what we spoke about all week, our attitude was going to be the winning and losing of the game. Our attitude was spot on from the minute we arrived here, at half time, right the way through”.

For year two of his tenure, the Kildare native acknowledged that his panel is stronger with the emergence of Teresa Collins and the Doohan sisters to the starting fifteen plus the return of Ailish Considine from Australia and Roisin Considine from England. “The panel is stronger and Chloe (Moloney) is out injured and we have her to come back, we didn’t start Grainne Harvey today and Laurie was not available today and she’s to come back. We have a couple of injuries to come back, Orla Devitt, Lizzy Roche is close, but the girls who came in this year and the girls who are now getting a lot of minutes like Joanna (Doohan) at centre back who has played every single minute in the league for us this year… so I think everyone is stepping up. It’s an enjoyable camp to be in, we’re changing it up and they really want to win something this year. We’ll just take every day as it comes, we’re good at doing that and we’re really enjoying what we’re doing at the moment”.

Both Devitt and Roche will be given adequate time to get over their injuries, he said. “We won’t rush [Orla or Lizzy], it’s too early to take any chances because at the end of the day it’s about being in Croke Park in August, that’s what we speak about quite regularly and what we’re always building towards. In an ideal world if we can get them back for the league final it would be a huge boost, if not, so be it. They’re too important to us throughout the year”.

When the league does conclude, Clare will take a brief respite before switching their attention to championship. “We take a break after the league final and we’ll get back together, put in a good camp, build into the championship and go again. It worked well for us last year and I don’t see why it wouldn’t this year. Our squad’s in a really good place. We’ve been rotating regularly and we’ve been able to keep our standards really high and get wins and good results, so we’re really happy with where we are at this point in the year”.

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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.

Subscribe for just €3 per month

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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