Clare welcome Waterford to Cusack Park this Sunday with a place in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland senior camogie quarter-finals the prize for the winner.
Patricia O’Grady’s side come into the game off the back of a heavy defeat to Kilkenny last weekend. Now is their chance to respond and put a positive spin on their year. Waterford are fresh from their first senior championship win in which they beat Limerick by two points. The Déise come to Ennis confident of upsetting the hosts and securing a place in the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
While Clare have done a lot of talking off the field with regards to wanting more games played in Cusack Park, they have failed to back up the talk on the pitch. Sunday is an opportunity for them to do so in a venue that they have so often spoken about playing in. Earlier this year, they played Cork in the Park and the game was over by half-time. The management and panel feel the county grounds suit them but they’ve yet to give sufficient evidence of it when playing there.
Of the five teams in Group 1, Clare have the worst scoring difference, the Kilkenny hammering is a factor but also the lack of scores that they have been able to muster thus far this year. Niamh O’Dea has had solid performances for them in attack but more players need to step up in their forward line to keep the scoreboard ticking.
“Must-win” was how manager Patricia O’Grady referred to the game following their loss to the Cats. That’s exactly how it is and in a number of ways, reaching quarter-finals has to be standard for this Banner panel each year but they’ve failed to do so since 2015. They are unbeaten in home games in this year’s championship and that record needs to remain in tact come Sunday evening.
A big help for them in their journey would be a strong home support at Cusack Park for the 2:30pm throw-in. The lack of followers for this team during O’Grady’s and previous managers tenures has been very disappointing for a management and panel of players who devote as much time as their male counterparts. But if the supporters come out in force, it’s up to Clare to give them a reason to keep going to games, something they haven’t done of late.
Photograph: ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo