*Cian Moloney will be on free-taking duty once again for Kilmaley. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
Having already guided his native club back to the promised land of senior in 2017, Conor Clancy has returned to try and deliver the holy grail of a Canon Hamilton crown.
Management: Conor Clancy, Colin Lynch (Joint-Managers), Martin Meehan, Kieran Murphy (Selectors), Dermot Maher (Goalkeeping Coach), Eanna Murphy (Performance Analysis), Aidan Slattery, Eva Moynan (Physios)
Captain: Mikey O’Neill
Key Player: Conor Cleary
One to Watch: James McGuire
Fresh Blood: Peter Ronan, Sean Ronan,
Players Gone: None
Titles Won: 2
Most Recent Title: 2004
Round 1 (Saturday) – Round 1 – Kilmaley v Inagh-Kilnamona
Round 2 (Saturday/Sunday, August 21st/22nd) – Kilmaley a bye
Round 3 (Saturday/Sunday, September 4/5th) – Kilmaley v Whitegate
Round 4 (Saturday/Sunday, September 18/19th) – Kilmaley v O’Callaghan’s Mills
Round 5 (Saturday/Sunday, October 2nd/3rd) – Kilmaley v Clonlara
Alongside fellow former All-Ireland winner Colin Lynch, the management duo, who were both part of Kilmaley’s last championship winning side in 2004, are eager to capitalise upon a decade of underage successes and turn Kilmaley’s undoubted potential into tangible success.
Putting that masterplan into operation has been limited though, with the former club chairman keen to stress the severity of the pandemic on the development of young players.
“When you compare it to last year when there was no Clare Cup and it was straight into the championship, obviously getting five games was a help ahead of this year’s championship. We were missing a few with the Clare seniors and Under 20’s and along with that, we’d injuries as well so it was a good opportunity to blood a few players and get lads back to speed after a long lay-off.
“For all the clubs, the last 18 months have had a massive impact on hurling and football at both adult and underage levels as the lack of competitive action is no good for the state of the games across the county”.
Those concerns will have to be put to one side however as they are set to be embroiled in an ultra-competitive five team group that offers only two places in the business end of the championship.
“It’s a very tough group but the way we’re looking at it is that even if you come out of the group, at some point you’re going to be playing the big teams anyway. So I’m sure all five will have the same objective and whoever eventually comes out of it will definitely be battle-hardened for the knock-out stages.
“Because it’s so difficult, every team is capable of beating each other and therefore it’s unlikely that any one team will be able to win all their four matches. So every point will be important in a wide open group like this and that’s the way we’re approaching it”.
That cut-throat challenge commences this Saturday evening against none other than neighbours Inagh-Kilnamona who certainly won’t lack motivation following their Clare Cup final reverse in 2019. Whoever prevails will have much more than bragging rights this time around however.