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Crucial opener for Clare’s ladies footballers on Sunday

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Clare begin their Ladies Football All-Ireland intermediate campaign this weekend.

They kick off the 2018 TG4 All-Ireland series when they play Down in Kinnegad at 2pm on Sunday. After losing out by a single point to Kildare in the 2016 decider, last year Meath dumped Clare out at the quarter-final stage. This brought an end to Neil Moynihan’s reign in charge.

James Murrihy has succeeded him and the Banner come into the series off the back of a disappointing Division 2 League campaign. They find themselves in a four-team group in the revamped round-robin championship, alongside Down, Kildare and Wexford with the top two will make it through to the quarter-finals.

Down were well beaten by Tyrone twice in the Ulster championship but they did record an impressive victory over Fermanagh in between those two chastening afternoons against the Red Hands. On their day, Down can be a competitive outfit and they won’t fear their three group opponents. They finished third in Division 3 of the League losing out to Wexford in the last four.

Clare are the only intermediate county in Munster this year but they did beat Limerick, a junior outfit, in a fixture organised by the provincial council, with the Enda McDonnell Cup up for grabs.

A win is a must here for both teams if they harbour genuine hopes of making the quarter-finals, as Leinster counties Wexford and Kildare will present stiff opposition for the remainder of the group phase.

*Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

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