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*Evan Talty. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

Having been a member of the management team last season, newly appointed Clare ladies football manager Evan Talty is well versed on what Clare face this season.

On Sunday, Clare begin their league campaign with a home tie against Wexford, a game that will take place at Cusack Park at 2pm.

“Last year’s campaign wasn’t finished because of the lockdown and our game with Wexford was one of two (Clare v Cavan was the other) that wasn’t played”, the Kilmurry Ibrickane man told The Clare Echo this week.

Sunday’s opponents are the only two intermediate teams in the group, the others are Meath who knocked Clare out of the championship at semi-final stage last year, and Kerry.

For Sunday’s game Clare must plan without Niamh O’Dea, one the game’s leading lights in recent years. A knee injury has ruled the Kilfenora attacker who plays with the Banner Ladies out of the league while Kilmihil’s Caitriona Callinan will also miss Sunday’s game as she is currently recovering from a cruciate knee injury.

It will be Saturday night or Sunday morning before Talty and his managements team will get to make a decision on five of their players who are all due to see action on Saturday. Siofra Ni Chonail, a key member of the Clare defence, will be in action with the Clare senior camogie team on Saturday while Grainne Nolan, Carol O’Leary and Sinead O’Keeffe are all due to play with the county’s junior camogie side on Saturday. Kilmurry-Ibrickane’s Chloe Moloney has a soccer game with Galway on Saturday.

“We would like to get a victory on Sunday. We have a good panel of thirty five players which includes eleven new players. The focus is on blooding the younger players before we play in the championship which is due to start on the weekend of July 10/11. The groups have yet to be drawn but we along with Westmeath and Roscommon who also reached the semi-finals last year, will be seeded”, explained the manager.

“Training has been really good. Initially we held trials to which 67 players were invited. Three weeks ago we narrowed the panel down to 35. We have played a challenge game and a couple of in house games. There has been little between Clare and Wexford over the years. A few years ago they came to Doonbeg and beat us but we then went to Wexford and defeated them. Both sides still have a lot of the players who saw action in those matches”, explained the Clare boss.

The team for Sunday’s gzame won’t be finalised until shortly before the game but Micaela Glynn from Kilmihil will fill the goalkeeping position. The backline is set to include Roisin Considine from Liscannor who made the team of the year in 2020, Ellie O’Gorman (Kilmihil), Siofra Ni Chonáil (St. Josephs Doora/Barefield) and team captain Caoimhe Harvey (West Clare Gaels).

The likely midfield pairing is Aisling Reidy (St. Josephs Doora/Barefield) and Orla Devitt (Éire Óg) while up front Chloe Moloney (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Grainne Nolan (Banner) and Fidelma Marrinan (West Clare Gaels) are all likely to be in the starting team.

“We are delighted to be playing the game in Cusack Park. The county board has really stepped up this year and brought things to a new level. While there won’t be any spectators allowed, it’s great for the girls to be playing in Cusack Park”, commented Talty whose backroom team includes Mark O’Donnell and Conor Shannon (both St. Breckans) and John O’Grady from Oola in Limerick as coaches with Michael Frawley from Kilmurry Ibrickane in charge of strength and conditioning while the goalkeeping coach is Donal Hughes from the Neale in Mayo.

While the manager is happy with his squad, he hopes to add Laurie Ryan, currently playing soccer with Athlone Town, and Ailish Considine from Kilmihil, currently playing Australian Rules football to the group later in the season when they become available..

For now, however, the focus is very much on Sunday’s opening league tie against Wexford and Talty hopes to see the side emulate the senior men’s football team and make a winning start to the campaign.

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