Sister Act: Rachael, Susan, Jennifer and Lynda Daly.
Daly Life

Four sisters, including triplets, at core of new Clare camogie era

Rachael, Susan, Jennifer and Lynda Daly play together for the Banner.

THEY ARGUE OVER clothes and whose turn it is to do a stint in the family shop in Killaloe but when it comes to camogie, Clare’s quartet of Daly siblings are united and single-minded.

Four siblings on a county team is fairly unusual and when three of them are triplets, you must certainly be approaching the category labelled unique.

Two years almost to the day after Lynda, Susan and Rachael were born (in that order), Jennifer came along. So there’s one big party coming up, with Jennifer’s 21st on 2 April and the triplets turning 23 the following day.

They say it takes a village to raise a child and that certainly applies here. Still, one can only imagine how John and Diane coped.

Rachael: “I don’t know how they did it, to be honest. They had the help of the whole town really, in fairness. Even now it’s still a bit of mayhem when we’re all together. It’s never quiet in our house.”

Lynda: ”It was chaotic in our house when we were younger. My dad was saying the whole town was taking turns to mind us. I’d say we had about 20 baby-sitters!”

The Dalys have played together through underage Scariff-Ogonnelloe, school and county but when Rachael got the call-up from John Carmody this year and the quartet played in the Very National League Division 1A clash with Galway a fortnight ago, it brought the high-achieving clan to another level as established senior operators.

Susan: “We’ve been training together since we’re four or five. The three of us played on county teams since we’re U14. Me and Lynda went in with the seniors after U16. Jennifer came two years after and Rachael started this year. It is special and we’re all really supportive of each other. We drive each other on and we have the advantage of having the four of us to practice outside, go to the gym or wall ball. And we know each other so well, during a match, I know where Rachael is going to puck out a ball and stuff like that, and what way Jennifer or Lynda likes to get a ball.”

Rachael is a goalie. Susan the defender, moved this year from full-back to wing-back. Rachael is at midfield. Jennifer a wing-forward. They could work a score without including anyone outside of the Daly tribe.

susan-daly Susan Daly. Evan Treacy / INPHO Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

It was a different sport that began the story, as John and Diane met playing badminton in Dublin. But once the girls got exposed the camogie via the local Cúl Camp, they were all-in and their parents invested themselves equally.

Rachael: “We were very average players growing up. We weren’t too hectic but we practised. We came obsessed with it, always out, going hell for leather.”

Jennifer: “When we were six or seven in the garden we’d be playing 2-v-2. It’s standing to me now because I was in against the older girls. They’d show me no mercy. I’m well able to stand up for myself. The age gap wasn’t a factor. I was more like a quadruplet. I might have bullied them a bit!”

Rachael, as a newly-minted Biology (and Ag Science) teacher currently subbing over the border in Newport College, is supremely qualified to explain that in their cases, there were two different eggs and because one split, Lynda and Susan are identical while Rachael is easily identifiable when the trio rock up.

Rachael: “Lynda and Susan are stuck together. They picked the exact same subjects at school, they did the same in college. The three of us have all the same friends and the same interests though there are some differences too. One quieter than another at times or things like that. Though Jennifer is pretty much the loudest one of the lot!”

Lynda and Susan are both doing Athletic Therapy and are currently on placement: the former with Laura’s Pilates & Injury Therapy in Lahinch, the latter with Damien McMahon’s Physio Recovery Room. Lynda is working with the Tipperary U20 hurlers, while Susan is in with the Clare U14 hurlers as well as football, rugby and camogie teams at UL.

Needless to say, the dastardly duo couldn’t help using their similarities to create mischief.

Susan: “At school we used to sit in each other’s seats to confuse teachers. Then Lynda would try get me to go in and do some of her exams, though we never did that. But we had great fun with it at school. Teachers got confused and coaches too sometime but at least with the helmets, they can tell the difference that way.”

Jennifer was in UCC for a while but felt it wasn’t for her so is back home, considering her next step and being put to good use in shop, The Forge. In fact, after a time when the four of them were gone all week, they are all back in the house now. Blessed art John among women.

Lynda: “We don’t fight over much but over clothes and who’s working in the shop next. You can’t do an hour more than the other!”

The biggest culprit for robbing clothes?

Lynda: “Jennifer definitely. Oh my God!”

Jennifer is taller than the triplets, though?

Lynda: “Yeah but she still robs our clothes anyway. She’s the tallest and the boldest I think!”

Jennifer: “Now we’re all back at home, we might step on each other’s toes a bit, I suppose.”

jennifer-daly-and-ciara-mckeogh Jennifer Daly. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

Susan and Lynda actually played against Jennifer in third-level fare with the lookalikes lining out for SETU Carlow and Jennifer with UCC. Susan marked Jennifer and even in the match, they were separated as the sibling rivalry threatened to boil over.

Susan: “We are very competitive. We don’t hold back from each other.”

Lynda: “We do mark each other in training and it gets a bit heated and we have to switch. The managers now, if they see us on each other, say, ‘Sisters, swap,’ just in case a fight happens.”

This is a transitional period for Clare with long-serving figures such as Chloe Morey and others no longer involved. Carmody has taken the opportunity to blood youth, with a number of last year’s All-Ireland-winning junior squad, including Jennifer, making the step up, along with peers of the triplets that were on the panel that reached the All-Ireland minor final in 2019.

The league has begun with defeats to Kilkenny and Galway and with Waterford next, it’s not getting any easier but the players see the big picture.

Susan: “I have really enjoyed playing for Clare. You’re training with the best players in the county and I’ve learned so much from training with them. We have had a few experienced girls leaving but we’ve a new team, loads of youth and energy.”

Rachael: “It’s very exciting at the moment. I think the oldest we have is maybe 24, 25. There’s a good bond between the players, probably because it is so young. We understand each other and have the same morals. So it’s going well. We know we’ve lost the first few matches but we are building, we’re trying out different things in this transition phase and we’re looking forward to the rest of the year.”

Jennifer: “Getting to win an All-Ireland in Croke Park last year with the juniors was unreal. Junior was tough and a high standard but you’d have more time on the ball than you do at senior and maybe take your own scores more. It’s definitely more physical at senior too. If you don’t get the ball up first time, you’re cooked. It’s a higher pace and it’s great to be up there playing the best teams. We know that in a few years it will stand to us that we played them at such a young age.”

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