*Patrick Crotty. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
SCARIFF’s senior side find themselves in a difficult group of five but will hold an inner belief that they are well capable of making a breakthrough to the knockout stages this season.
A leading power in Clare hurling in the thirties and forties, Scariff, like many parishes in East Clare, have struggled to maintain a strong challenge in the higher hurling grades in modern times.
In recent years there have been signs of a resurgence and having regained senior status with their 2020 Clare IHC win, Scariff go into the 2023 Clare senior championship having captured the Clare U21 titles at both A and C grades last December.
Their amalgamation with neighbours Ogonnelloe for underage competitions has been a huge boost to both clubs. Many of the players who helped bring the under U21 to the club last season when they were managed by Conor McNamara, will be part of the senior panel in the upcoming campaign
Mark Rodgers captained the under 21 title winning team which also included Patrick Crotty and both have been part of the Clare senior panel this season while Keelan Hartigan has been with the Clare under 20 team which reached the Munster final where they lost narrowly to Cork who went on to win the All-Ireland title.
Another indication that things are on an upward curve in Scariff GAA is the fact that the club will also compete in both junior A and junior C premier championships whereas it’s not that long ago since they struggled to field just one adult team.
Scariff’s senior management team includes Donal Moloney, a key member of the club’s adult team during his playing days. As a joint Clare manager with Gerry O’Connor, he steered Clare to Munster and All-Ireland under 21 honours before being part of the Clare senior management team for a number of years.
He has played a huge part in putting the development squad structure in place in Clare while still finding time to be part of his beloved club’s management structure
Since returning to senior ranks in 2021, Scariff have had to battle hard to retain their senior status. This season has been their best since they got back to the top division as they reached the Clare Cup semi-final where they lost out narrowly to eventual winners O’Callaghans Mills.
They played most of the league campaign without their inter county representatives, team captain Mark Rodgers and Patrick Crotty.
Scariff defeated Saturday’s opponents (3-11 to 0-12) in the opening round of the Clare Cup back in early March but neither side is likely to put much emphasis on that tie as both were short a number of the players who will be lining out this weekend.
It’s been seventy years since Scariff won the last of their five Clare senior titles (1953) and while they would dearly love to bridge that gap they are not looking past Saturday’s first round clash with St. Joseph’s Doora/Barefield.
While some players are battling to shake off niggly injuries, the East Clare outfit expect to have a full panel available to select their starting line up from on Saturday.
“We are in a very difficult group of five, all of whom will believe that they can progress. We are not looking past St. Joseph’s, winners of the intermediate title last year”, team manager Mark McKenna told The Clare Echo.
Their first round opponents have spent recent seasons competing at intermediate level and they have twice won that title.
Saturday’s opening game in this year’s Clare senior title race promises to be a close affair and if Mark Rodgers can continue to produce the form he has been displaying at inter county level, it may well prove to be to key to a Scariff victory
Management: Mark McKenna (manager); Michael Long, Michael Moroney, Jim Minogue, Ger Rodgers, Donal Moloney (selectors); Hugh O’Neill (S&C) Michelle McNamara (physio) Shane Moroney (Video Analysis)
Captain: Mark Rodgers
Key Player: Mark Rodgers
One to Watch: Liam Crotty
Fresh Blood: Liam Crotty, Tadhg Minogue, Seanie Hartigan
Departure Gate: Tomas McNamara (travelling), Conor McNamara
Titles won: 5
Last season’s run: Finished bottom of their group
Round 1 v St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield
Round 2 a bye
Round 3 v Inagh/Kilnamona
Round 4 v Ballyea
Round 5 v Kilmaley