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*Clare captain, Clare Hehir. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

Clare could hardly have asked for a tougher challenge in the opening round of the All-Ireland senior camogie championship than a meeting with the defending champions Kilkenny who are also the current league title holders.

However, that’s the card they have been dealt and they must face the Noresiders at O’Garney Park in Sixmilebridge on this Saturday.

“If you have any intentions of winning you have to face teams like this, you have to take on the champions”, according to Banner captain Clare Hehir.

While the Inagh-Kilnamona player acknowledged that it’s a huge challenge for Clare she says that the Banner side “have no fears about playing them. We beat them in the league last year in Nowlan Park and we are looking forward to Saturday’s game”.

She felt that the team had “a disappointing enough league campaign but we had a good win over Dublin recently to secure our division 1 league status for next season and that was good preparation”.

The defender believes that the squad has “done all the hard work over the last few months and we are ready for this challenge. The girls have put in a tremendous effort both during the lockdown and since we returned to collective training”.

She acknowledged that Clare are “facing a very tough campaign, three tough games in three weeks. There will have to be a big focus on recovering and getting ready for the next game. It will be about looking after ourselves”.

In round 2 Clare will head up the road to play Galway, another of the favourites for the All-Ireland title before coming back to home soil for their final group game when they will entertain Westmeath.

“We got to the quarter final last year and that was a big step and we were happy to take that step. We are looking to push on again this year”, according to the full back. “Every game is important and the first two will tell us a lot. Yes, we have been handed a tough route but we will have to play them sometime and it’s just as well to face them at the start,” the captain concluded.

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