*Chloe Moloney of Clare in action against Clodagh Dunne of Laois during the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Intermediate Championship Semi-Final match between Clare and Laois at St Brigid’s GAA club in Kiltoom, Roscommon. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

LAST WEEKEND was a big one for Clare footballer Chloe Moloney in her pursuit of glory on two sporting fronts in 2023.

By Daire Walsh

A former Republic of Ireland underage soccer international, Moloney lined out at centre-half for Peamount United in their televised Women’s Premier Division clash with Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium last Saturday. A 1-0 victory – thanks to a late goal from Sadhbh Doyle – helped the Dublin club to open up a six-point gap over both defending champions Shelbourne and Rovers at the summit of the table.

Less than 24 hours later, Moloney was back in the saffron and blue of Clare for their TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship Group Two opener against Offaly at Bretland Park in Clara. Featuring at centre-forward, the Kilmurry Ibrickane star played her part as the Banner emerged with a 1-17 to 1-12 win.

Remarkably, this was the seventh time already this year that Peamount and Clare have had a game on the same weekend. It won’t be the last time either as the Peas will once again face Rovers at Tallaght later today in the inaugural All-Island Cup, while the Banner County will continue their IFC campaign tomorrow at home to Wicklow in Cusack Park, Ennis.

It has been non-stop for Moloney since she first decided to combine both codes in 2020, but it is something she intends to carry on for some time to come. “It’s the majority nearly every weekend now that I have two games. One Saturday, one Sunday. It can be tough. Obviously the travelling as well is a big factor in it as I’m living in West Clare and I’m driving up to Dublin for soccer,” Moloney explained.

“I’ve been doing it now for a few years and I enjoy playing both. I’ll do it as long as I can. Hopefully I’ll stay injury-free. It’s something I’m used to now and I’ve nearly gotten the hang of it. I just have to look after myself nearly straight after Saturday and get myself rehydrated again, to be ready for Sunday.”

It certainly helps Moloney that she has two very accommodating managers in the shape of Peamount boss James O’Callaghan and current Clare supremo Wayne Freeman.

It is a similar case for Moloney in her current day job as a factory worker with Wild Irish Seaweeds – a company that is based a short distance away from her home village of Quilty.

“Evan Talty is actually the owner of that place. He was my Clare manager for the previous two years. He knows that I’m playing a lot of sport, so if I ever need any time off he’s very flexible. It’s ideal for me. There are great people working up there as well. I’ve been there a good few years now. As I said, if I ever needed a bit of time off for anything, it’s flexible enough. Even on Thursdays, I’d have to leave work a bit early just to get up to Dublin for training [with Peamount]. It’s ideal for me and it’s a great atmosphere there”.

In her first spell at Peamount from 2017 to 2020 (she subsequently spent a few months at her former side Galway United before returning to her current club in August 2021), Moloney picked up four winners’ medals across three different domestic competitions.

She and Clare fell agonisingly short in their quest for silverware in the Lidl NFL Division 3 Final against Kildare in April, when they suffered an agonising extra-time final defeat to Kildare at Parnell Park, but the Banner did go a step further in last month’s Munster Senior ‘B’ Championship showpiece, defeating Limerick in the Final.

Because they are the only team from the province in the TG4 All-Ireland intermediate championship, and Limerick are Munster’s sole junior representatives, the two sides compete in this competition along with second teams from both Cork and Kerry.

Rather than remaining idle until the All-Ireland series began, this afforded Clare some quality game time and also allowed them to bounce back from a disappointing end to their League campaign.

“Obviously it’s a pity that we don’t have intermediate in the provincial, but that’s just the way it is, with there only being one intermediate team and one junior. It was great to get the few games with Cork and Kerry’s second teams as well and obviously Limerick. We had a great battle with Limerick as well in the group stage, we drew with them back in Doonbeg. The two Limerick games will stand to us. They were tough, physical games and they put us right down to the wire. It was our last proper competitive game before the All-Ireland series, so it was nice to have a good battle”.

There is a long journey ahead of them yet (Tyrone provide the opposition in the final round of Group 2 next weekend), but the ultimate goal for Clare in the current inter-county season is to seal a return to Croke Park for All-Ireland Finals day on August 13.

Moloney watched on from the stands when the Banner, who are three-time winners of the competition, came up a point short against Kildare in the 2016 intermediate decider and she is hoping the current crop of Clare players can inspire the next generation of hopefuls within the county.

“It has always been our aim, to get to Croke Park. Everyone wants to play there, everyone wants to be there at the end of the year for the All-Ireland final day. It’s the best day out for the LGFA,” Moloney added.

“Even getting to the Division 3 final in Parnell Park, there was a great buzz around and there was a lot of young girls up there. A few busloads went up. There was great excitement out of it and I can imagine if we did get to Croke Park it would be huge. We’ll do everything we can to get there. We’ve been training hard and we’ll continue to train hard. Hopefully we’ll get everything right and we’ll be there in the middle of August”.

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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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