*Ger Keane. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Clare’s qualification for the TG4 All-Ireland ladies football intermediate semi-finals has been described by Ger Keane as one of the most dramatic involvements he has had in the sport.
Having stormed to a 7-18 to 0-02 win over Sligo in Tuam on Sunday, Clare had to scramble to Twitter to see what the result between Kildare and Laois was. Success for Laois was needed for Clare to seal their place in the semi-finals but it seemed a big ask against one of the favourites for the championship.
Scenes of joy followed upon hitting the refresh button as the Banner County discovered their faith. “It was unbelievable really, I’m involved in football a long time but I was never involved in something so dramatic and waiting for the result to come in for the other side. We knew we had to take care of our own business and after that it was outside of our own hands,” selector Ger Keane recounted.
Since their first round loss to Kildare, Keane has admired the manner in which the panel have responded and felt their progression to the semi-finals was well earned. He believed their display was a strong collective one rather than an over-reliance on set individuals.
“They are proud Clare women and they wanted to win for their county, we don’t take anyone for granted and we wanted to go as hard as we could for sixty minutes and see what would happen,” the Kilkee native remarked.
Competition for places is a pleasant headache for the management team with six changes made for the Sligo encounter. “Some of the girls who hadn’t been starting were very close to starting and some of the girls who weren’t picked had been doing well, it was a case of trying to get the balance right”.
As they prepare for Meath in the semi-finals, the former Clare footballer outlined that team selection was very much open. We’ve two weeks and a lot will be down to who is going well in training and who is going well out there with very little between the players”. He added, “We’re improving the whole time and there is good strength in depth in the panel which is a great way to be going into the semi-final”.
Memories of their last encounter with Meath are still fresh for the St Caimin’s secondary school teacher. “We had a dramatic draw with them in what turned out to be the last game of the League, they were six points up on us that day and were cruising. They’ve lost the last two All-Ireland finals and will be going in as strong favourites but the way our girls are playing they will fear no one, it is a great bonus to be there and should be a cracker of a game”.