Kilkishen’s Alannah Ryan is close to full fitness for Saturday’s final. Photograph: ©INPHO/Bryan Keane
Contesting the Munster senior and junior camogie championship finals on this Saturday, a week after playing in the provincial minor A final is “a huge sign of the progress being made by Clare camogie” according to team mentor Brendan Foley.
Killaloe native Foley detailed, “people are putting in a lot of time behind the scenes, coming in and giving up time to coach players are various level. There is huge professionalism involved and getting through to contest these finals is an indication that the work is paying off. The next step now is to bring silverware back to the county. It’s been a decade or more since we were in a Munster senior final. This management’s initial goal was to be in the top three or four teams in the country and to achieve that it’s important to be in the Munster final”.
Foley readily acknowledges that “we face a massive test against Cork. They have been the flagbearers with Kilkenny and Galway for the past decade. We know that it’s no easy task to have to go to Cork and take them on in their own backyard but, in fairness, the girls have upped the ante in training. We had a good win over Kilkenny in a challenge match recently and we took confidence from that as we did from our win over Limerick in our last group league game. We have also been boosted by the two games with Tipperary whom we meet again in a couple of weeks in the All-Ireland series”.
The Clare mentor is happy that the squad has “a good mix of experience and youth. Claire Hehir, Chloe Morey, Niamh O’Dea, Doireann Murphy and Eimear Kelly fill key roles joined by young players in Lorna McNamara, Caoimhe Carmody, Caoimhe Kelly and Zi Yan Spillane to mention some. We have great leaders all over the field” explained Foley who is hopeful that Alannah Ryan will be fit to play some part in Saturday’s final.
Smith O’Briens clubman Foley noted “Davy’s (Fitzgerald) involvement with Cork adds to the interest in the game. His son Colm is with us and I am sure that there will be a good bit of banter in their house this week. It adds spice to the fixture”.
Recalling the meeting of the teams in the opening round of the league in Ennis he said “it was a terrible day for hurling and both teams will be looking for a good dry day on Saturday. We know the challenge Cork will bring, they are well organised and fit. We will have to counteract their style of play. We are going down to Cork to try and win the game. It’s great preparation for the All-Ireland series which gets under way a week later. For now the focus is on Saturday. The games are coming thick and fast over the coming weeks and we will be taking it one game at a time. Recovery will be very important. It’s all about touch and speed and getting up to the pace of the game. We have a massive six or seven weeks ahead. The camp is buzzing right now, the hard work has been done since January with the strength and conditioning. The girls have put in a huge effort”.
“It’s a huge day for Clare camogie with both the junior and senior teams chasing Munster honours. Hopefully we will have a big Clare following in Páirc Ui Rinn to support the teams,” he added.
The juniors have had good wins over Tipperary and Limerick and now face Waterford. The side is captained by Sinead Hogg (Truagh-Clonlara) and Kate O’Gorman (Kilkishen), the team also includes Rebecca Crowe (Ruan), Shauna Canny (Feakle-Killanena), Lauran Solon (Whitegte) and Michelle Powell (Truagh-Clonlara).
For the record both teams begin their All-Ireland campaigns on May 21/22, the seniors away to Tipperary and the juniors at home to Mayo. On May 28/29 the seniors will have home advantage against Dublin. The seniors will also be at home on June 4/5 against Wexford while the juniors will be away to Tipperary. On June 18/19 the seniors travel to pay Cork while the juniors entertain Waterford. The group stage will conclude for both teams on July 2/3 with the seniors at home to Waterford while the juniors will be away to Cavan.