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Cleere’s Cats call as Déise come to town

Thu 06th Jun

Daragh Ó Conchúir


by Daragh Ó Conchúir
As a local councillor, Peter Cleere was hot on the campaign trail ahead of yesterday’s elections but he hasn’t been confining his clarion calls to the people of the Callan-Thomastown district.

The Kilkenny camogie manager has been asking all followers of the black and amber to get behind his charges as they have their first home tie of the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland senior championship against neighbours Waterford.

Cleere has overseen the Stripeywomen winning their opening two games by an aggregate of 7-21 on their travels to Limerick and Antrim but Saturday’s 3pm clash with last year’s All-Ireland finalists represents a significant step up.

Particularly challenging for the Cats is the fact that having run straight into the championship on the back of a winning Leinster campaign, they will be playing a sixth game in five weeks.

The new supremo spent the League getting to know what resources he had and feels that has been beneficial as it shuffled the deck in a bid to maintain freshness.

He is confident in the calibre available to him, even with former player of the year, Denise Gaule gone travelling and Claire Phelan retired. However, the man known Noreside as ‘Chap’ feels that they will need a raucous UPMC Nowlan Park to give them an edge, says.

“The games are coming thick and fast,” Cleere observes. “We made sure to use the League to get game time into all of our panel as we knew when this block came, we were going to have to use them.

“So it’s fantastic for the panel that everybody has a real, live chance of starting against Waterford, which is a massive headache for me and the management team but great for the girls because there’s huge excitement this time of the year and a massive game.

“We’ve 35 players on our panel and they’re as honest as the day is long. I couldn’t fault any of them. The work rate they put in, their genuineness, their honesty is just brilliant. They’re a pleasure to deal with and a pleasure to work with. The spirit is magnificent in the group. We’re very happy with where we’re at and there’s fierce excitement looking forward to Waterford.

“We’ll know a hell of a lot more next weekend but it’s not about any individual player in this Kilkenny group. It’s about the squad.

“We’re hoping for a massive crowd to come down and support us, for a massive support. You’re bringing the All-Ireland finalists into Nowlan Park. It’s a really exciting time for the girls.

“We’re really looking forward to the opportunity of coming back and playing a big game in front of our fans. The girls deserve a big turnout… and hopefully we can keep up our end of the bargain and get a good performance and get a good result.”

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