BY KIERAN LYNCH
CLONDUFF camogs are hoping to reach a second All-Ireland Intermediate final in the space of four years, when they take on Kerry side Clanmaurice this Saturday.
The game takes place in Kinnegad county Westmeath, and last time the Yellas togged out on this pitch they were able to book their place in the All-Ireland decider, as they defeated Galway’s Craughwell, before going on to win the crown with a 0-10 to 0-9 victory over Waterford side Gailltír.
Clonduff are hoping that history repeats itself, and they reached this stage with a 1-10 to 1-7 victory over Eglish in the Ulster final three weeks ago, where their experienced players rose to the fore, as Paula O’Hagan converted 0-6 in a Player of the Match display, and Sarah Louise Graffin and Finnoula Carr were among the top performers.
“That win was massive for us,” reflected assistant manager Oisin MacManus ahead of this weekend’s clash.
“We had won very well in the Down final against Liatroim, and maybe a wee tiny bit of complacency had set in after that, but Eglish were a big challenge, and they gave us a rude awakening in the first 20 minutes, that we knew were in a game.
“But we settled down, we hit the crossbar, we hit a goal chance straight at the ‘keeper, so we had our chances in the first half, and we got our goal right at the end of the half, which was massive because I think it knocked the stuffing out of Eglish a bit and gave us a boost.”
As the days tick down to the final four, the buzz is lifting with each passing training session, and McManus says that the team know what it takes to be successful at this time of the year.
“At this time of year, it can be hard enough to get yourself out for the cold nights, but the girls are a top class bunch,” he said.
“These girls have been here before – they won the All-Ireland a few years ago – so, they know what it takes, and what they have to do.
“They train hard, but they still have the craic with one another. They’re going really well in training, and we’ll see how we get on, but I feel as though we’re as good as we can be at this stage.”
As for this weekend’s opposition, Clanmaurice, they aren’t to be dismissed. They won five straight Munster Junior titles, before claiming the provincial crown at Intermediate grade last month, and they have experience of winning an All-Ireland title, as they are the current Junior champions.
“We were lucky enough to have got a video of them from their Munster final,” said McManus, regarding what Clonduff know about their opponents.
“That was massive for us, because it allowed us to highlight players and match-ups.
“They have 12 players on the Kerry panel, so they’re no bad side, and they have plenty of experience playing, and winning at a high level, having won a Junior All-Ireland at the start of the year.
“So, we have done our homework on them, so, we’re just going to set up our system and hopefully it works.”