Whatever happens this weekend and for the rest of the season, this has been a year to remember for Susan Vaughan and Clare camogie.
The championship might not have gone as well as they would like but they are still alive and it’s knockout fare from now on. There is still a chance to add another chapter to a season of progress.
Vaughan will not be able to help out though, after suffering a severe hand injury in the draw against Dublin at Parnell Park two weeks ago. A pin has been inserted in the Banner captain’s knuckle and that is going to rule her out of action for the short term future at least.
It will be frustrating, particularly as Clare will be resuming rivalries with Tipperary, to whom they capitulated badly during the round-robin series.
It was a strange result, out of keeping with what Clare have produced all season. They only lost by a point to Cork in the opener, having beaten the league champions in an historic Munster final.
They rattled Galway too but conceded a goal after 30 seconds against Tipp and never recovered. They would have been expected to beat Dublin, and failure to do so confined them to this play-off, but it was important not to lose again.
By and large, this is a group that is more accustomed to winning, than losing. John Carmody has a very young squad at his disposal, containing so many players that reached the All-Ireland minor finals from 2008-2010.
Deirdre Murphy and Siobhán Lafferty provide the experience and it all began to gel this year.
“At the start we played Kilkenny and we lost by two points. Normally we lose by a cricket score so it does give the young players in particular the confidence to go out and just play against these big players. We have no fear.
“It was a big shock to us to beat Cork. We were in the dressing room ‘we just beat Cork!’ But then a lot of the younger players are used to beating Cork. We have minors coming through all the time and it’s great that we’re one of the best underage counties in Munster at the moment. It is ridiculous how young the squad is at the moment.
“It was great winning the Munster final. We hadn’t won it in 66 years. If you look at the cup it’s all Tipp and Cork. Back in the ‘40s there’s Clare and Waterford so the running joke is they must have let Cork and Tipp in to play it after that!”
Vaughan is a recent graduate in student law and accounting from UL.
“The world is my oyster now” she laughs.
But her focus is on Clare for the summer, before the concentration is turned to typing up a CV and pursuing gainful employment.
Given her drive and ambition on the pitch, you’d back the 21-year-old to be successful off it. She is certainly aiming high for Clare camogie.
“One of our main aims is to break into that top four. It’s been the same for the last few years and hopefully we can take one out.”