*JJ & Eva O’Dea. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

SPORT is a huge part of life in the O’Dea household and this weekend will again highlight the fact that family members will have to choose which fixture to attend.

Eva will captain the Banner Ladies as they chase their 13th Clare senior title with a team which will include her sister Niamh while her father J.J. is the manager.

While that game is on at Shanahan McNamara Park, Eva and Niamh’s brother Cian will be lining out with Éire Óg in Ennis as they take on Sixmilebridge in the Clare SHC semi-final.

“It probably means that Mam will have to make a decision as to which game to attend”, according to Dublin based Eva who insists that the fact that her Dad is the ladies team manager doesn’t mean that she and Niamh get any special treatment.

According to Eva, brother Cian, a leading light with the Clare senior footballers in recent years, “has a lot of knowledge and it’s great to learn from him”. He was part of the Banner ladies management team for a number of years but his busy schedule with club and county means that he is concentrating on playing at present.

Weekends are particularly busy as the sports mad family head in different directions for training and games.

Like their brother Cian, the girls play football and camogie while their other brother Jack is very involved with Kilfenora both as a player and officer.

For weekends, Eva travels home from the capital for matches and training. “For much of the past two years, I was working from home because of the Covid pandemic”, she explained this week.

Hunger is the key to Banner Ladies staying so strong, she believed. “Despite the fact that almost three quarters of the panel are dual payers, the hunger is there. Players want to be at the top. The last two years have been difficult because of the restrictions due to COVID but the players have shown great commitment. Because of the fact that games were coming hot and fast between the two codes, we have had to deal with injuries but we have got through it”, explained Eva who plays her club camogie with Corofin who suffered relegation from intermediate last weekend.

Eva is honoured to be the team captain this year. “Being captain is a great honour. There is no extra pressure as we have a lot of leaders with a lot of experience”, said the defender. “We played in the group stage when both teams were short a number of players. County finals can go either way. Hopefully we can be ahead when the final whistle sounds,” she said of Sunday’s opponents Kilmihil.

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