Clare will begin their 2023 Allianz division 2 football league campaign this Sunday without two of the squad’s most experienced players from the past decade.
David Tubridy, the league’s all time top scorer, recently announced his retirement from inter county football after fifteen years of outstanding service to Clare.
As a result the longest serving inter county football manager, Colm Collins will, for the first time, name a squad without the Doonbeg star.
Another of the stars of Clare’s impressive run under Collins will also be missing this week when the Banner outfit host Louth in the opening game in this season’s league.
Eire Og’s Ciaran Russell isn’t expected to see action for a couple of weeks as he deals with a leg injury which hampered his club and county campaign in 2022.
The absence of both Tubridy and Russell robs Clare of great experience and the team could yet suffer another loss as news is awaited on the fitness of Jamie Malone.
The dual Corofin star suffered an injury in the McGrath cup against Cork on Sunday week last and he had to leave the action as a result on that occasion. A final decision on whether or not he will be able to play a part in Sunday’s game will be made later this week.
Louth will provide the opposition for Clare on Sunday and they are new to this division having won promotion from division 3 last season.
Under manager Mickey Harte who enjoyed a lot of success when in charge of his native Tyrone, the Leinster side travel to Ennis on the back of defeat in the O’Byrne cup final last Saturday.
In that game, Longford, who will play in division 3 in the league, scored a comfortable victory and it will be interesting to see how the “wee county” squad will react to that result.
Most pundits argue that the key to league success is achieving victory in a team’s home league games and with four of their seven games in the division at home this season, Clare fans will be hoping that this will help them to avoid relegation.
Arguably this season’s division 2 group is the strongest for many years with such as Dublin, Kildare and Derry in the group.
The Clare team for Sunday’s game (throw in at Cusack park is 2p.m.) won’t be named until later this week but it’s likely that some players will make their league debut.
Amongst those who are in training with the squad are Ronan Lanigan (Eire Og), Brian McNamara (Cooraclare), Shane Griffin (Lissycasey) and Thomas Meeneghan (Banner) and they could well find themselves in the match day squad on Sunday.
Experience will be provided by regulars such as Stephen Ryan, Cillian Brennan, Cian O’Dea and Manus Doherty while Emmet McMahon, Alan Sweeney, Gavin Cooney and Aaron Griffin are others who are expected to feature on Sunday..
While finding replacements for the now retired David Tubridy and the injured Ciaran Russell will be difficult, Clare should still have enough experience to get their league campaign off to a winning start but they cannot afford to take anything for granted.