*Clare manager Ger O’Connell. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO
As they prepare for their first All-Ireland senior quarter-final in six seasons, Clare camogie boss Ger O’Connell is hopeful his charges will grow in confidence following their dominant weekend win over Dublin.
An eleven point victory over Dublin worked as the perfect tonic for Clare’s senior camogie outfit in recovering from a disappointing first round defeat to Tipperary.
“There was a lot of negative talk after our game with Tipperary and rightly so, we didn’t perform on the day. Our second half today is what we expect from the group, the girls put in so much effort and work, we see it on the training field and to see that second half was really good, hopefully the confidence will build from that,” O’Connell outlined following Saturday’s win.
Ger added, “At the start of the year you have your goals and aims, number one was to get out of the group no matter what, it hasn’t been done in a while which is nothing against any previous management but it is a hard thing to get to the quarter-final. Goal one has been got, now we can go and have a right cut at this quarter-final”.
Indeed the success marked only Clare’s third championship win in five years. The former county goalkeeper felt an improvement was visible within their ranks and was a more significant factor for their progression to the quarter-finals rather than the advantage of being in a three team group.
He stated, “Our results have shown we are improving, we had a decent league campaign. It was hard to know what would happen from the break of games and girls coming back from club, it is a different way of playing and we had to get the girls back into the mentality of what we want to do, we’ve been much better with our shape and how we want to work the ball and our delivery into the forwards. The workrate was much better than what it was against Tipp, that was the message before the game, forget tactics, work hard and see what happens after that”.
Securing a win over last year’s All-Ireland finalists Kilkenny stood out as the highlight of their 2020 league campaign which was cut short due to COVID-19 crushing the possibility of the Banner reaching a first league decider since 2014.
Maintaining their earlier momentum was almost an impossibility but the 1997 All-Ireland minor winner flagged that new additions to the panel has brought a sense of energy along with a competition for places.
“We had earmarked a couple of girls that we wanted to bring in to help the group, we brought on five girls here today, we have big trust in what he have, Robyn Conway and Gretta Hickey both scored from the bench, it is about building the confidence of these girls. We’re not a direct team, we can be at times but we’re able to play ball when we want to. It’s great to be here in Fr McNamara Park, a lot of work has gone in here and it’s great to be able to get a championship match here and defend our home ground”.