*Clare intermediate ladies football manager, Evan Talty. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

To get to the All-Ireland intermediate ladies football championship final this season Clare will have to beat the highest ranked team in the competition in this Sunday’s semi-final.

Laois are the favourites for this championship and Clare face the midlanders in this Sunday’s semi-final at St. Bridgets GAA grounds in Kiltoom, Roscommon at 3.30p.m.

The fixture is part of a double bill with Limerick and Fermanagh who meet in the All-Ireland junior semi-final.

“On league ratings they are the highest ranked team in the competition and they have run up huge scores on their way to this stage of the competition winning by twenty six and thirty three points respectively. They won the Division 3 title last year and they have already beaten Clare by five points in the Division 2 league”, Clare manager Evan Talty told The Clare Echo.

A nine-time Clare SFC winner with Kilmurry Ibrickane, Talty flagged that Laois “have three players in the top five in the scoring charts at intermediate level this year. Erone Fitzpatrick, Emma Lawlor and Mo Nerney are their top scorers and our defence will have to be at their best to ensure that they keep Laois’ scoring opportunities down”.

Clare head into this tie with a full strength squad available for duty and they will be looking to defenders Siofra Ní Chonnail, Orla Devitt, Laurie Ryan and Ellie O’Gorman to limit the scoring chances which Laois will hope to create.

Laois have been averaging 4-14 per game while Clare’s average is 2-12 with Fidelma Marrinan the Banner side’s top scorer and she is sure to cause plenty of problems for the Leinster side’s defence on Sunday.

Clare are sure to take confidence from the result when the teams met in the 2020 championship. Clare won that tie, played at Clonmel, on a 5-11 to 0-10 scoreline and most of the players who were in action in that tie are still part of their respective panels.

In their 3-11 to 0-4 win over Longford last day out, Clare’s goals came from Chloe Moloney (penalty) Caitriona Callinan and Roisin Considine and they will be looking for more goals this week if they are to advance to the final.

The experienced Niamh O’Dea can make things difficult for the Laois defence as Clare go in search of victory as will Marrinan and Grainne Nolan while the midfield pairing of Ashling Reidy and Chloe Moloney will also have important roles to play.

In addition to the scoring threat provided by Fitzpatrick, Nerney and Lawlor, the Leinster side will be looking to centre back Ellen Healy and midfielder Jane Moore to play key roles.

Up to eleven of the team which played for Laois in 2020 in Clonmel will start on Sunday while Clare will have seven of the side they fielded on that occasion. The Banner squad has lost the Keane sisters and Ciara Hickey to travel, Laura Egan and Louise Woods have retired from inter-county football, Roisin Looney is out due to a long term injury while both Caoimhe Harvey and Eimear O’Connor are pregnant.

On recent results, Laois are entitled to the favourites tag and it will take a big effort to deny them on Sunday but this Clare squad has been knocking on the door in recent times and if they can manager to produce their best form then they have a great chance of making it through to the final.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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