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*Kilrush Rangers during pre-season training. 

KILRUSH RANGERS are expecting a stern challenge as they return to the top tier of Clare soccer.

Sporting Ennistymon’s failure to turn up for a relegation/promotion play-off on the same day that Clare’s senior hurlers were lining out in the Munster final granted Kilrush a passage to return to the Premier Division and now they must grab the opportunity with both hands.

Former Clare Youths manager, Michael Clair is entering his second season as Kilrush Rangers boss and is wary of the task ahead. “It’s going to be a big challenge, we’ve a young team in effect and to get the experience and to get used to playing at the standard is a big challenge, we’re looking forward to it and we have a lot of work done. We’ll take it one game at a time and try to stay up”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, he was hopeful that a development of players on the field could dovetail with events off it. “We’re hoping to develop, there’s opportunities for new players but also for people interested getting involved in the club. We’re looking for a first aid/sports injury person to be available for us on matchday”.

He added, “We’re ambitious, we would like to do well, we want Kilrush Rangers to be the Premier football club in West Clare, we are anxious to develop on and off the field. The more people involved with the club the better, new people considering getting involved are more than welcome and we’re not forgetting club stalwarts like Robert Clancy who have kept the club going for many years”.

Their standing as the only West Clare club in the top tier is an angle they will use to entice players to Kilrush Rangers. “We’re the only West Clare team, we’re hoping it might attract players looking to play at the top level of football in Clare. We’re hoping some of the gaelic footballers from across West Clare will become available in next few weeks, they’ll have to earn their place though, we won’t just parachute them in, we are interested in developing players”.

New additions to the club include Patrick Quirke and Owen O’Shea, both of whom are signing from the Limerick District League. Clair confirmed that numerous players have “expressed an interest” with availability to be restricted for the coming weeks, “we are actively recruiting, we have been spreading the net around West Clare”.

Both Liam Madigan and Dylan Russell are to emigrate and have not rejoined the squad while work commitments are among the reasons that six member’s of Clair’s group to be promoted last season are unavailable.

They begin their campaign away to Bridge Utd this Saturday. “We’re looking at it as one game at a time, we’re going to the Bridge on Saturday, we want to give a good account of ourselves, we’re confident in the players we have but it will be a big step, it will be a learning experience,” Michael outlined.

“We’ve four weeks done with the lads, some of them have been on holidays, some of them have been working up the country and involved with other sports, it hasn’t been easy but we’ve been working with them twice a week,” the former Lifford FC manager stated.

Doonbeg based Martin Fitzpatrick who coached Celbridge Utd joins Michael on his coaching ticket, “he is very experienced and the lads enjoy his coaching”.

Kilrush Rangers:
Management: Michael Clair (manager) Martin Fitzpatrick (head coach)
Captain: Trevor Clancy
Key Player: Trevor Clancy
One to Watch: Patrick Quirke
Fresh blood: Patrick Quirke, Owen O’Shea
Departures Gate: Liam Madigan, Dylan Russell.

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