Round One gets underway at the weekend, with the eight teams involved all edging to get their name inscribed on the Mc Mahon Cup as 2014 champions.
Current holders Newmarket on Fergus are many people’s favourites to retain the crown, but their squad has been severely weakened since then so it’s all to play for, it’s hard to look past Sixmilebridge or Kilmaley but the likes of Clooney/Quin and Inagh/Kilnamona are in with a shout but don’t write off the outside bunch of Truagh/Clonlara, Kilkishen or Scariff/Ogonelloe just yet.
Newmarket on Fergus
Newmarket on Fergus vs Kilkishen 19:00 on 15/09/14 at Clarecastle:
In what is a repeat of last year’s first round clash which saw Newmarket stroll to a 7-17 to 3-05 win. A lot has changed since then especially for the Blues who went on to win the county championship. They have lost a number of their county final winning squad this year; Aine O Brien who was their topscorer is working abroad, former Clare senior Erica Minouge along with the experience Deirdre Cassidy have decided to call it a day while Sharon Mc Mahon will be unavailable for the majority of the championship due to injury. That’s a long list when it comes to camogie teams and especially when it comes to the talent the aforementioned brought with them into battle. For this reason, Newmarket will not carry the favourites tag as championship contenders, but on the plus side it gives younger inexperienced players the chance to prove themselves. If they’re to regain the crown, other players need to take charge and assume leadership because they won’t be able to fall back on the experience of O Brien, Minouge, Cassidy and Mc Mahon. They will be counting on the O Learys, Kaisers, Mc Mahons, Joanne Walsh, Aimee Mc Inerney and Aoife Griffin to get their campaign off to the perfect start. Kilkishen in recent years appear to have a fear factor when it comes to facing off against the big teams. If they’re to get past the group stage they need to lose this fear factor. Last year they won the Senior Shield and they say once you get that taste of success it makes you greedier, it would be great for camogie in the county if that was to be the case with Kilkishen. Their main aim is to make it into the knockout stages and a win on Friday night would be a massive step in that direction. Kate Lynch, Norah Murphy, Lisa Loughnane and Cushla Hehir will need to put in star performances if they’re to cause an upset. This might be Kilkishen’s best chance of beating the Blues in Senior Championship but the County Champions should have more than enough to come out on top.
Sixmilebridge vs Clooney/Quin 19:15 on 15/09/14 at Kilkishen:
This is arguably the tie of the round and the winning side will do their championship hopes the world of good. Both sides have intentions of becoming county champions, but both have failed to deliver on a number of occasions in recent years which Kilmaley and Newmarket on Fergus have taken advantage of. Sixmilebridge are a young side and have been tipped to steal the crown on a number of occasions, this year is as good as any for the Bridge. With Canon Hamilton’s vacation down by the O Garney River now complete, the Bridge folk need something to fill that void, the Anne Mc Mahon Cup would be more than welcome to make a return for the first time since 1990. There are doubts over the availability of Irish Hockey International, Naomi Carroll but still without Carroll they’re as good as any side in the competition. John Nihill is in his second year as manager and having been a selector with the Clare Junior side that won the All-Ireland, he knows exactly what it takes to make it to the top. The likes of Chloe Morey, Maire Mc Grath, Rachel O Halloran, Ellen Roche, Keelin Lyons and Ali Quinlan will do their best to get them to the top. Clooney are on a similar boat, they’re sick of seeing other teams become county champions, when they know that they have what it takes to be victorious on the big day. It appears that they will be without Orlaith Duggan for Friday’s clash and she would be a massive loss. They have an experienced management team of Ger O Halloran, Mike Murphy and Mike Duggan who all know Clare camogie inside out and it is well within their capabilities of masterminding a campaign that sees their captain Edwina O Brien lift the Mc Mahon Cup. In their corner they have one of the greatest players to ever play camogie for Clare in Deirdre Murphy, add in Aisling Hannon, Jessica O Neill, Aisling Corbett, Christine Colleran and Mary Clune and they become a very difficult side to get past. This one will be nip and tuck right until the final whistle and Sixmilebridge should just about shade it.
Inagh/Kilnamona vs Truagh/Clonlara 19:30 on 15/09/14 at TBC:
Two of the more dominant sides in underage camogie in recent years face off in what should be an evenly balanced affair. A win is vital for both as it would give them a real chance of making the semi-finals. Inagh/Kilnamona are going to be giving their younger stars a start at the weekend and they will be hopeful that the risk pays off. They are managed by Margaret Lafferty who was heavily involved when Kilnamona were in their heyday in the last decade, when players like Catherine O Loughlin and Anne Keane were to the fore. Lafferty will be hopeful the current Kilnamona generation merged with the Inagh girls will have enough in them to launch a serious championship campaign. It will be up to Fiona Lafferty, Aoife Keane, Sinead O Loughlin, Michelle Wynne and Patricia O Loughlin to lead the Inamona challenge on Friday night. Truagh have yet to hit the ground running since joining the senior ranks last year. They fell down to Kilkishen in the Shield Final last year, so they will be hoping to have a better campaign in 2014. They are doing very well at underage level, but the same cannot be said for their senior team. However one thing about this team is that they won’t go down without a fight. Ellen Horgan, Sarah Sherlock, Kathleen Horgan, Michelle Caulfield and Eimear Kelly will be the main players for this Truagh team. While Truagh have been very successful at underage level, this year may be too soon for them and Inagh/Kilnamona should be that bit stronger in this affair.
Kilmaley vs Scariff/Ogonelloe 12:00 on 16/09/14 at TBC:
It’s a baptism of fire for Scariff/Ogonelloe as they enter the senior ranks. Last year was a magnificent one for the Scariff/Ogonelloe women; they went on to win the intermediate County title along with the Munster title before falling at the final hurdle in the All-Ireland Final. Since then they have lost two of their main performers, Marian O Brien is unavailable for the year while Susan Vaughan who deserted the County side at the start of the year, has also deserted her club team. They couldn’t have asked for a tougher task than camogie heavyweights, Kilmaley in their first round. Kilmaley are determined to bring the Mc Mahon Cup back in the hands of Captain and County Star, Claire Mc Mahon. If they’re to cause the upset of the round, Scariff/Ogonelloe will need Mairead Scanlan, Sarah O Donnell, Aisling Corbett and Mairead Vaughan at their very best. Kilmaley will be very disappointed with their 2013 campaign, they bowed out at the semi-final stage losing to Clooney-Quin by eight points. Needless to say, 2014 is all about redemption. From 2006-2012, Kilmaley contested every senior county final, securing victory in 2008, 2009 and 2012. They have high expectations every year and this year is no different. They will be looking to set down a marker at the hands of Scariff/Ogonelloe at the weekend. County dual star Ailish Considine will be doubtful for the first few rounds of the championship as she continues her rehabilitation from a cruciate ligament injury. Still with the likes of Claire Mc Mahon, Eimear Considine, Helen Mc Mahon, Niamh O Dea, Denise Lynch, Katie Cahill and Shonagh Enright in their ranks, they’re a force to be reckoned. It would be a fairytale beginning if Scariff/Ogonelloe were to be victorious but when Kilmaley are involved there are no such things as fairytales and the 2012 Champions should have too much in this one.
The Clare Herald would like to thank award winning Clare Camogie PRO, Brid Mc Namara for her assistance and co-operation with the article.