*Colm O’Brien. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
Cooraclare have ten Clare senior football championship titles to their credit whilst St. Breckans have yet to get their name on the coveted roll of honour.
Manager: Donie Garrihy
Selectors: Declan O’Keeffe(coach), John McDonagh (coach), Josie O’Loughlin, Pat Haugh, John Earls(Physio), Pa McEvoy(S&C), Paul O’Loughlin and Sean McNamara(COVID-19 officers)
Captain: Alan Sweeney
Most recent: N/A
Key player: Jack Sheedy
Fresh Blood: Jamie Stack, Eoin Guerin.
That’s a statistic which the Lisdoonvarna club manager Donie Garrihy has stressed to his charges in recent weeks as they prepared for their clash with Cooraclare in the opening round of the 2020 title race which takes place at Hennessy Memorial Park in Miltown on Sunday.
Garrihy wants “to rectify that statistic. There is a great rivalry between the clubs as they have clashed quite a bit at minor and under 21 levels in modern times. We met in the minor division 2 final last year and Cooraclre came out on top. It’s hard to make the breakthrough. Cooraclare are a good championship team and we know that we are facing a difficult task”.
Having lost their senior status two years ago, the North Clare side bounced back last year when they captured the intermediate title. They are coached by former All Star and All-Ireland winning goalkeeper with Kerry, Declan O’Keeffe.
Asked for his views on the championship format, Garrihy replied “we take whatever we are given. It’s better than not having any football. It’s great to be back and we are glad to be part of it”.
The Doolin native is “disappointed that we will not have spectators at this week’s games but hopefully this will change for round two. The club is a huge part of our community and this was highlighted during the recent lockdown when our members raised important finances for Pieta House while they also helped the Meitheal organisation in North Clare with the delivery of goods to the elderly and to those who were cocooning”.
St. Breckans must face into Sunday’s first round tie without the services of Stephen Tierney. He is complying with COVID-19 regulations having recently returned from Dubai.
Inter county man Alan Sweeney who led the club back to senior ranks last year, continues as captain while the side will also include Dale Masterson who is the club vice captain, Jack Sheedy, Joe Mc Gann, Aidan Davidson, Padraig Kelly and Colm O’Brien to mention some.
They had to battle hard to overcome Kildysart in the intermediate final last year and they then went on to contest the Munster final. The club has been in existence since 1971 and prior to that teams from Lisdoonvarna and Doolin competed separately in Clare football competitions. Since its formation the club has won titles at under 14, under 16, minor, under 21, junior and intermediate levels while they also captured the Cusack Cup (senior league). St. Breckans contested the Clare senior championship finals in 1985 and 1996 but defeat was their lot on each occasion.
With a good mix of youth and experience available, there is an air of confidence amongst their supporters that they can make an impression in this year’s title race.