*Miltown Malbay’s Darragh McDonagh is expected to line out for Clare on his home field on Thursday. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
As Clare prepare for the new inter county senior football season, a number of players are expected to make their senior debuts on Saturday at Hennessy Park in Miltown Malbay when the Banner side will face Cork in the McGrath Cup.
Clare were to have had their first competitive outing of 2022 last Sunday against Waterford but the McGrath Cup first round fixture, scheduled for Walsh Park in Waterford, was cancelled due to a high number of Covid cases in the Waterford camp. A new date for the game has yet to be announced.
Colm Collins and his management team are expected to give debuts to a number of players in what will be Clare and Cork’s first outing of the year.
Injuries and club commitments mean that a number of regulars will not be available to Clare this week. Corofin players are focussing on their upcoming Munster intermediate championship final clash with Na Gael from Kerry and amongst those ruled out this week because of this game is Jamie Malone.
Conor Jordan will be absent as he is a member of the Austin Stacks side which is finalising preparations for the Munster senior club final against St Finbarrs from Cork. Both the Provincial finals (intermediate and senior) will take place on Saturday/Sunday week, January 15/16 and venues for both games have yet to be confirmed
Other regulars unavailable this week include Pearse Lillis, Sean Collins and Ciaran Russell. Éire Óg’s Mark McInerney is expected to feature this week while his clubmates Manus Doherty and Ronan Lanigan are tipped to get some game time over the coming weeks.
Brian McNamara and Micheál Garry (both Cooraclare), Tadhg Lillis (Doonbeg), Brendy Rouine (Ennistymon) and Thomas Meenaghan (Banner) have been added to the training panel and are likely to see game time this week.
Darragh McDonagh (St. Josephs Miltown) is in the running to face Cork this Thursday on his home pitch at Hennessy Park. Having been based in London for a couple of years, McDonagh returned to take up work in Ireland last year.
Ciaran Morrissey (Kilmurry-Ibrickane) and Dara Conneally (Ennistymon) are also expected to feature against a Cork side that is also expected to include a number of debutants.
Tristan O’Callaghan (St. Breckans) is one of three goalkeepers currently in the panel, the others are Stephen Ryan (Kilrush) and Tom O’Brien (St. Josephs Doora/Barefield).
Clare’s Allianz league campaign will begin at the end of the month (January 3) with a home game against Offaly who are managed by John Maughan who steered Clare to the Munster senior title in 1992.
Clare’s other league games in Division 2 will see them away to Cork on Saturday, February 5; away to Roscommon on Sunday February 20; at home to Derry on Sunday February 27; away to Galway on Sunday March 13; at home to Meath on Sunday March 20 and away to Down on Sunday March 27.