2024 TG4 All-Ireland Finals tickets

Intermediate Championship Preview

Intermediate Championship Preview

All Ireland Intermediate Championship Fourth Round

Clare .v. Limerick

Date:               August 10th

Venue:            Cusack Park Ennis

Time:              3.00pm


The stakes are now at an all time high for the Clare Ladies Intermediate side as they enter the business end of this year’s championship. It is knockout from here on in and this includes Sunday’s final group game against Limerick.  Results other-where in the qualifiers have meant that Clare cannot now afford any slip-up against their near neighbours on Sunday next.

Indeed so tight is the qualifying group that even a win will not guarantee the Bannerettes to qualify for the All Ireland semi’s but it will at least guarantee them a playoff spot depending on other results.

As things stand Tipperary head Clare’s group with nine points. The Premier county have played all their games and Clare will be level with them should they win on Sunday.  Of equal interest however will be the result of the Roscommon .v. Cavan match to be played simultaneously.  Should Roscommon win there will be a three way tie for the two qualifying places.  The rules of the competition stipulate that in such an event all three counties will be placed in a hat with the first team drawn proceeding to the semi-finals as group winners and the remaining two teams playing against each other for the remaining qualifying spot.

Oh how Deirdre Murphy will be praying for a Clare home win on Sunday and that somehow Cavan can overcome their near neighbours Roscommon as such a scenario would see Clare through to the semi’s without the need of a playoff.  Realistically though Clare cannot expect such a favour from the Breffni girls and Roscommon should emerge victorious from the tie as they have home advantage.

Irrespective of how things pan out up the country Clare must ensure that they put in a decent hour’s work and win their own game and thus ensure that they remain in the All Ireland shake-up.  In this regard they will do well to remember the fright that Limerick gave them in the opening round of this year’s Munster Intermediate Championship in Cooraclare last May.  Limerick were by far the better team on the day and some fortuitous late scores by the Bannerettes saw them eventually emerge victorious by the narrowest of margins.  They cannot rely on such luck again on Sunday and must play championship football right from the start.

Clare has strengthened its squad since the last meeting with Limerick and the addition of Eimear Considine and Sarah Hoey is a major step forward. Marie Kelly is again showing a major return to last year’s form and Niamh Keane of the Banner Ladies must now surely get a starting place following her impressive display when introduced as a second half substitute against Cavan last time out.  West Clare Gael’s star Sinéad Kelly looks suited to her new role at full back but one must question the county selectors insistence that Michelle Delaney play in the corner when she excels with her club on the half back line.  Similarly Sarah Hoey is not suited to wing back but she is a tight and competitive marker in the corner spot. Coolmeen’s Grace Lynch, while an outstanding player in her own right, must remind herself constantly that she is first and foremost a defender and that no matter how impressive her forward runs may be if she is not at home when her opposing forward gains possession then all her forward panache is negated.

Midfield also needs beefing up with both Louise Henchy and Sandra Malone being exposed throughout this year’s campaign – although in fairness to captain Henchy she did very well against Cavan and led by example in the vital final ten minutes of the match.  A fully fit Tammy Hehir could be her ideal partner here with Malone switching to wing back or wing forward.

Up front Clare possess many aces but quick accurate ball to their inside forwards is imperative. Majella Griffin, Áine Kelly and young player of the year Eimear Considine can do serious damage to any defence if given the right ball (as can Marie Kelly outside them), but starved of good possession they cannot operate to Clare’s best advantage. Marie Considine did well on the wing against Cavan but she will need to maintain this form against Limerick to stake her place going forward.  Úna Downes has been solid all through this year’s campaign and it will be very difficult to leave her out of a starting fifteen.

Clare await the return of the injured Fiona Lafferty.  Her pace and tenacity is currently sorely missed.  Hopefully if Clare progress further in the tournament Lafferty will be in a position to challenge for a starting spot.  All said however Clare should win on Sunday and if they harbour realistic championship ambitions the win should be a comprehensive one.  True this is a local derby, but Clare need to impress to show that at last they are realistic contenders for the All Ireland Intermediate crown. Expect them to do so on Sunday.

Dr. Paul McKenna.
PRO Clare Ladies Football



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