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'It's great to have such a well-known and experienced voice in. Everyone looks up to him'

Veteran Clare defender Martin McMahon is a coach in the senior ladies set-up.

Clare ladies football coach Martin McMahon.
Clare ladies football coach Martin McMahon.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

FOLLOWING A TURBULENT few months, the Clare ladies footballers have welcomed the positive impact of Banner veteran defender Martin McMahon on the side.

The 2016 All-Ireland beaten finalists only just avoided relegation from Division 2 of the Lidl Ladies National Football League after six losses and one win.

“We didn’t have the best league but everyone’s put that to the back of their mind,” captain Laurie Ryan told The42 at yesterday’s TG4 All-Ireland championship launch.

“We had a bit of a change of management there after the league and I think the spirits really lifted within the squad.

“We had a few players come back in and join us which has been fantastic. We’re hoping that what we’ve done in training will really show off now when we go out and play championship.”

She added of the addition of McMahon — who first played for Clare in 2008 and has captained his club Kilmurray Ibrickane — as coach:

“It’s great to have such a well-known and experienced voice in. He understands where we’re coming from and what it takes to be the best.

“It’s great to have his point of view. He’s been a breadth of fresh air really since he came in and everyone looks up to him as well.”

Clare got their summer up and running on a good note two weeks ago as they beat Limerick on a scoreline of 7-15 to 1-3.

The Banner line out in the intermediate championship but as they’re the only team in Munster in that grade — Cork, Kerry, Tipperary and Waterford are all senior — and Limerick are the only junior side, they were pitted against each other with silverware up for grabs.

“It was great to get that game,” Ryan explains.

“Munster Council organised it for both of us because neither of us had a provincial (final) to look forward to. It’s a long time to go from league to championship without having a competitive game.

“Even getting the preparations right and the girls getting used to playing a match for a trophy, or something on the line. It was a nice start.

“For our younger girls, they want to win and when they heard that (there was silverware on the line) it motivates them more. A lot of us have never won anything with Clare so it was nice in that sense.

“At the same time, you want to be competing with the best in our level and division. Limerick, fair play to them, it was never going to be easy coming up and playing a team above them. They were a very good team, but it was nice to get a cup at the end of the day.”

Laurie Ryan with Noelle Early Ryan in action against Kildare in the 2016 All-Ireland intermediate final. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Focus now turns to the re-structured All-Ireland intermediate championship where they face Down in Round 1 on the weekend of 14/15 July.

The other two sides in their pool are 2016 All-Ireland intermediate champions Kildare and this year’s Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 3 winners Wexford.

“Everyone’s looking forward to it. It’s really exciting that you get three games in the space of a month. We’re hopeful and really looking forward to the test over the next few weeks.”

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Emma Duffy

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