posted 21 Oct 2010, 14:02 by Unknown user
updated 21 Oct 2010, 14:08 by Denis Tuohy Agricultural Consultant
THE draws for the 2011 inter-county senior hurling and football championships were made last week and Clare could hardly have been dealt for a tougher draw.
The footballers will play All-Ireland champions Cork, while the hurlers could also have to take on All-Ireland champions, as they play the winners of the first round tie between Tipperary and Cork.
“Historically most counties that play a preliminary game benefit from it. It’s the draw and that’s it. We will end up playing one of the top three or four teams in the country. It’s an awful tough draw but we must try and rise to it,” hurling manager Ger O’Loughlin said.
While O’Loughlin will be keeping the provincial semi-final date in mind, he said, “We have to concentrate on the league first and see how it will treat us. We can’t offer any excuses this year. We have a lot more time to prepare. We know the players better and we must ensure that we get out of Division 2, which won’t be easy”.
He added that the so-called weaker counties like Carlow and Antrim have got stronger. “Now you have Limerick in the division. It will be a tough campaign. I will be hoping that come championship time, physically and mentally, we will be ready and will give it our best shot. We will be building over the next few years to compete with the top sides.”
Meanwhile, football boss Micheál McDermott described the challenge facing the county footballers “as tough as they come”.
“I understand that we will be travelling to play them in Pairc Ui Caoimh. It’s a huge challenge for all the players and if they have ambitions for Clare football, they will look forward to putting it up to the champions. Nobody will expect Clare to win but we will have a real cut at it,” he said.
Clare’s preparations will be in three stages. “There is the McGrath Cup in January, then the league campaign and we will be striving to get out of Division 4 and then it will be onto the championship. The league, in our view, is critical and getting promotion is vital but it won’t be easy. This year we face a tough opening tie against Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon while our final two games will be away to Fermanagh and Wicklow, who will both be expected to be in the shake-up at that stage.”
Meanwhile, the National Hurling League fixtures for 2011 have also been finalised. The hurlers play their opening game on Sunday, February 13 when rivals Limerick provide the opposition at Cusack Park. The footballers will have opened their campaign a week earlier in Carrick-on-Shannon against Leitrim.
Hurling (Division 2)
Sunday, February 13, at home to Limerick; Sunday, February 20, away to Antrim; Sunday, March 6, away to Westmeath; Sunday, March 13, at home to Down; Saturday, March 26, at home to Kerry; Saturday, April 2, away to Laois; Sunday, April 17 at home to Carlow.
Football (Division 4)
Sunday, February 6, away to Leitrim; Saturday, February 12, at home to Kilkenny; Sunday, February 27, away to Carlow; Saturday, March 12, at home to London; Sunday, March 20, at home to Roscommon; Sunday, March 27, at home to Longford; Sunday, April 3, away to Fermanagh; Sunday, April 10, away to Wicklow.
The provincial championships will dominate proceedings from here to the end of the season. The dates involving Clare clubs are:
Senior Football: November 7, Doonbeg travel to play Waterford champions, Ballinacourty or Stradbally; November 21, winners play Cork champions with the final scheduled for December 5.
Intermediate Football: November 7, Clare champions (Clondegad or St Breckan’s) at home to Tipperary champions; November 14, winners away to Waterford champions; November 28, Munster final.
Junior Football: November 21, Kilfenora travel to play Waterford champions; November 28, winners play Limerick champions; December 12, final.
Senior Hurling: October 31, Clare champions (Cratloe or Crusheen) at home to Kilmallock; November 14, winners play Tipperary champions; Novembr 28, final.
Intermediate Hurling: October 31, Clare champions (Killanena or Ruan) at home to Tipperary; November 7, Winners play Waterford; November 21, final.
Clare will not be represented in the junior hurling competition as they do not have an exclusive junior A hurling club.