*Clondegad’s Barry Toner. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

THREE IN a row chasing Éire Óg have only lost one championship game in the last two years, that a second round defeat to Clondegad in 2021, the men from Ballynacally will look to inflict another group loss on the Ennis side when they do battle this weekend.

As Clondegad put the finishing touches to preparations for this season’s senior football championship, they are focusing on themselves “and on what we can achieve”, rather than looking at their opponents who happen to be the defending champions Éire Óg who are chasing a third title in a row this year.

That’s according to team manager Dermot Gavin who is in his first year in charge of the Ballynacally based club.

“We are a new management team and we are taking it one game at a time. That has been our approach all season. We used the league to try and get a look at all the players we have available to us that we could establish what we have”, he said this week ahead of their opening game which is set for Saturday evening at Cusack Park.

Asked if there is additional pressure because of the fact that they have been so close to a breakthrough in recent years, he said, “we have come in to do the best we can, the past is the past and we are just dealing with that and with the players who are available to us”.

Clondegad made a great start to this season’s Cusack Cup winning their opening four games and drawing their next outing. Despite losing their final two group games, they had secured a semi-final spot but here they lost out to eventual winners Ennistymon.

Injuries didn’t help their cause and as they finalise arrangements for Saturday there is concern about the fitness of a few key players.

Shane Brennan impressed in the Cusack Cup but he suffered a serious injury in the semi-final and this has ruled him out of this week’s tie while his brother, inter county full back Cillian is currently out due to a hip injury. Daniel Kelly from last year’s under 21 team and newcomer Tadhg Ó hUallachain join the Brennan brothers on the injured list.

With thirteen of their panel also members of the Ballyea senior hurling squad, Dermot accepts that, “it’s important to balance things for the dual players and to make sure that lads are not overloaded. It’s the same for every dual club”.

Former Clare captain Gary Brennan will fill that role for the club and he remains a key member of the squad. Others that supporters of the team will be looking to as they seek to get a winning start include Brian Murphy, Conor Gavin, Peter Casey, Barry Toner and Podge McMahon to mention some.

There is no doubt but they face a serious test against the competition favourites but Clondegad have shown repeatedly that they can match the best. They are sure to be boosted by Ballyea’s victory in the senior hurling championship last week while the club’s junior A side recently won their league title which will also have given a big lift to the senior squad.

Clondegad and Éire Óg last met in the senior championship quarter final last year when the town side had two goals to spare, winning on a 2-11 to 0-11 scoreline. Overturning that result is the focus for Clondegad this week

Clondegad

Management: Dermot Gavin (Manager), Robert Ford, Joe Hehir, Colm Quinlivan, Kieran Shannon, Keith McNamara; Garath Walsh (S&C), Aidan Cahill (Stats), Mike Weaving (Physio),
Captain: Gary Brennan
Key Player: Gary Brennan
One to Watch: Colm Meaney
Fresh Blood: Colm Meaney, Fiachra Kirby, Niall Carigg, Robbie Markham, Sean McAllister, Cian Kirby; Tadhg Ó hUallachain
Departure Gate: None
Titles won: None
Last season’s run: Finished third in group and then won play off for a quarter final place where they lost to eventual winners Eire Og
Schedule:
Round 1 v Éire Óg
Round 2 v Doonbeg
Round 3 v St Joseph’s Miltown

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