Lissycasey captain, Seamus Collins. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
SEMI-FINALISTS for the last two seasons, Lissycasey buoyant by continued success at underage level, most recently the inaugural U19 championship, head into the new senior campaign with a swagger.
John Ryan’s tenure to date has had an air of familiarity about it. Not alone have they reached back to back semi-finals but it was the same opposition, Kilmurry Ibrickane that ended their aspirations on both occasions, the 2020 showing proving to be a much closer contest than last year’s episode.
Once again they will cross swords with Cratloe where the man who managed Limerick to success in the All-Ireland Ladies Football Junior Championship resides. Lissycasey produced an impressive extra time win over Colm Collins’ side to kick off their 2020 bid while the sides won’t meet until the final group game this season where the winner could likely claim top spot.
Adding to the Cratloe intrigue is the fact that John’s son Seán is part of the panel. “I’m coming up against Cratloe with my own young fella involved, I know a lot of lads in Cratloe, we’re coming up against them again, we respect them, they will be very hard to beat. They have their experience with some fantastic players, they are very strong in every part of the field. I’ve a job to do with Lissycasey, I’m a Cratloe man but I’m on the line with Lissycasey”.
Before they reach that juncture, they have to face Kilmihil in round one in what is a repeat of the 2020 quarter-final which Ryan’s side won on a score of 1-14 2-07. The battle of the neighbours will also throw some spice on proceedings, “When you go against neighbours there will always be rivalry. They are a very good side and different to what they were a few years ago. Sometimes people get carried away with opposition, the first round of the championship will be a lottery”.
He told The Clare Echo, “It’s about every match, we’re going to be very hard pushed to beat Kilmihil, they’ve trained hard and they will be up for it. I’m not looking past next weekend, you can plan all you want but it is every match, we’re not even thinking about quarter-finals and semi-finals”.
Reflecting back on the disappointment of bowing out with a nine point semi-final loss, John admitted, “I wouldn’t have changed anything, we went into last year and expectations were high when you get to a semi-final and then we got back there. We didn’t do ourselves justice in the semi-final, we had a chat last year and we regrouped, we decided to give it another shot. We’re not thinking ahead because we will be up against it this weekend”.
Ahead of an anticipated tough encounter with Kilmihil, John expects to have a full bill of health by the time the ball is thrown in. “We’re carrying a few injuries, we hope they will be cleared by the weekend. Whatever it is with championship, whether it is intensity of the training and or what we’ll always get injuries this time of the year”.
Recent success of the club’s U19s is helping to drive on the senior players, Ryan observed. “Every bit of silverware to get into the club is very positive, it drives on us a bit, we have great young fellas coming through with great work going on in the underage from the likes of Martin Daly, that is coming through but it won’t happen overnight, it takes time”.
Tasters of the business end of the race for Jack Daly has whet the appetite for the 2007 champions, they’ve showed promises in patches but they must view this year’s campaign as a glorious opportunity to deliver. “No team in championship is looking to turn up with performance here and there, we have an ambition to do well, we want to progress and get past the business end where anything can happen. We’ve a tough group, the players are realists and they know that,” John concluded.
Management: John Ryan (manager), Liam O’Connell (coach), David Pyne, Noel Finucane, Matt Kilroy, Jimmy Collins
Captain: Seamus Collins
Key Player: Seamus Collins
One to Watch: Luke Griffin
Fresh blood: Conor Meaney
Departures Gate: N/A
Titles won: 1
Most recent title: 2007
Last season’s run: Qualified from the group with wins over Doonbeg and Clondegad, overcame St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield in the quarter-final before bowing out to Kilmurry Ibrickane
Rnd 1 vs Kilmihil
Rnd 2 vs St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield
Rnd 3 vs Cratloe