*Aisling Corbett. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

SCARIFF/OGONNELLOE’S run to a Munster Final has not only shortened the winter for its panellists but also their dedicated supporters across East Clare.

Aisling Corbett has been a pivotal figure in their crusade. Eyebrows would certainly have been raised twelve months ago if it was suggested she would have done this by playing in attack as opposed to between the posts.

But, the decision to move Aisling from goalkeeper to the full-forward line has reaped the rewards so far for David Sullivan’s charges.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Aisling admitted that the adjustment was “much harder than I expected”. “I’ve been in goals nearly ten years, I was happy to be given the opportunity, I said I’m shoving on now and if it’s going to happen it needs to happen now, unfortunately I found it more difficult to adjust to the role than I thought initially but I think I’m coming into it now, I don’t really mind where my position is on the pitch as long as I’m contributing and bringing a positive attitude but it took a while”.

She explained how the transition proved to be a struggle. “To be honest fitness was never a strong point of mine, I think it’s why I was put into the goals initially, I was never really athletic, strength and power was my strength, this year David approached me and said we want to try something different with Rachel in goals and bring some strength out the field. We had a lost a couple of forwards to injury at the start of this year so I could see where he was coming from. It was a massive adjustment, I felt like I had to put in a lot of extra work to get up to the level, when you’ve nineteen year olds running around you and you are thirty one years of age then it is not as easy as you would think, with the coaching and extra work that the lads have given me it has all come into place now at last”.

Any doubts were duly answered when the need was greatest with Aisling steering Scariff/Ogonnelloe to glory over Inniscarra in the provincial semi-final while her input was crucial to ensuring the county title went to North-East Clare as opposed to residing in South-East Clare with the Truagh/Clonlara girls. With a return of 0-14 from placed balls in their last three games, it’s clear to see Corbett’s influence.

“I was carrying a hamstring injury towards the end of the championship, I wasn’t able to get onto the team, I knew I would have a role in those matches, it was a different role to what I would have preferred but I was just delighted to make the impact and come on to score the frees, I’ve worked really hard to get back onto the team now”.

Known affectionately as ‘Bob’, Aisling is the perfect link to the amalgamation with her father from Scariff and her mother an Ogonnelloe native. A personal assistant at St John’s Hospital, she believed that their return to the Munster final was “testament to the work we’ve put in over the last thirteen months”.

Another help has been the quality of games they faced in Clare. “In Clare we played all the top teams and we came out on top in all of those, there was no easy game, not that any game is easy at senior level in Clare but we were pushed to the pins of it, Inagh/Kilnamona really tested us and Truagh/Clonlara brought us to a replay and deserved the replay in fairness, it was a really good match for a neutral to watch. We had a tough battle with Inniscarra in Cork, it was a tough battle. As you advance in these competitions, it gets tougher and tougher, we just need to up our game every time, so far we’ve been able to do that”.

Passing the flags and bunting around East Clare has given the Scariff woman and her teammates a pep in their step. “It’s nice, it is not every year that a club gets to a Munster or county final, it is nice to see it and light up the town, it’s the middle of January and we’re in a pandemic so why not spread a bit of positivity and enjoy the build-up. I know we’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices with regards to minding ourselves, keeping the contacts low and sacrificing a few nights out, Christmas is a time for socialising but it wasn’t this year for a lot of us, thankfully we’ve got through it”.

Their hope is to now provide an even bigger lift to their local communities by claiming Munster glory in Mallow. “We’re not going to go down there without the desire to win back that cup, we did it two years ago. I feel like it takes a great team to do it a second time, we have a totally different team to 2019, we’ve a lot of sixteen to seventeen year old girls which is absolutely brilliant, I think camogie has changed so much in the last ten years, when I was playing outfield at sixteen and seventeen it was much more direct, now there’s an awful lot more skill involved in camogie, those girls are bringing it and showcasing it. We’ve a younger team but we’re capable of doing it if we bring our A-game”.

Seeing Scariff/Ogonnelloe emerge as one of the top clubs in Clare camogie was not an overnight exercise, she noted. “It is testament to the workrate that has gone in at underage level, this is ten to twelve years building, it is also so important to keep the girls interested, with female sport girls drop off at 23 or 24 when they’re in college, they find different interests and it’s very important to keep girls interested because they will develop and they’ll bring their friends along, it’s important to keep numbers at training, we’re very lucky to have kept on so many girls and brought them to senior level, hopefully they’ll stay on and when my time comes to go, there will be girls savage behind me to step in”.

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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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