With Championship fever getting close, we take a look at some of our stars who will be taking to the field during the Summer months, starting with Clare’s Laura McMahon.
Like many athletes, the Newmarket-on-Fergus club player has been involved in the game for many years, “playing Camogie in the back garden” under the guidance of her older sisters.
“I was out pucking with them as I saw it more accurately getting in their way at every opportunity. When I eventually got to join in with formal training down at the field I was 5 years old”.
From then, she has grown from strength to strength, enjoying the life of a county player and meeting new people along the way, with her fondest memory being the friendships that have developed.
“Becoming best friends with the people who have been your biggest rivals at club level is my fondest memory”.
Within the county set up, there has been one role model that has stuck out in her mind, Brid McNamara. The numerous PRO award winner has been instrumental to the players in the county and the hard work she does behind the scenes doesn’t go unnoticed by the players.
“I’m not sure if Brid has ever played Camogie with Clare butt she has done more for it than anyone else I know. She dedicates so much time and effort into our teams and the promotion of Camogie in Clare.
“For the past few years she has made us sandwiches for after training, taking our dietary needs and preferences into consideration. She does all of this off her own bat and doesn’t look for anything in return. It’s people like Brid who have helped Camogie develop and improve.”
At this stage in the season the hard work has already been done. The trainings are altered, depending on upcoming matches, therefore for Laura her nutrition is just as important in the days leading up to a big game.
“Our management are very good to alter our training schedule to tailor it based upon upcoming games, so I just follow their plan. Regarding nutrition I’d play it safe, keeping food as simple as possible and using the nutrition plan that we received at the beginning of the year.”
On the county stage, the best players battle it out to get the bragging rights. Having played against some of the best, the toughest players she has faced are some very experiences players and some players much closer to home.
“I’ve been lucky or unlucky, whatever way you want to look at it, to have marked so many brilliant players. I could name numerous players like Arlene Watkins, Niamh Hannify, Kate Power, etc. All who have provided me with great learning experience and battles on the field.
“But the toughest would be either of my two sisters as they know me the best and we’d be very competitive in training trying to get the upper hand. Both of them are extremely skilled, strong, fit and fast so you get nothing easy from them.”
This year Clare will be hoping to match the best teams in the country. Having been drawn in the same group as reigning Champions Cork, Tipperary, Waterford, Dublin and Meath respectively there will be some tough matches ahead for the Banner county.
“Every team will pose a challenge to us. Each game is different, and you have to play what is in front of you on the day. Being in the group of 6 we will be under a lot of pressure event with time constraints trying to stay injury free and maintain that focus and hunger. So, in a way we will be our own biggest challenge.”
Ahead of the start of the Championship, there is one lesson that the Clare star will bring with her prior to the first ball being thrown in.
“The league highlighted the importance of discipline and the significance of reducing the number of frees we concede. Almost every free you give away results in a score because of the quality in the league is so high.”
Clare kick off their campaign at home to reigning Champions Cork on Saturday, 15th June.
Saturday June 15th
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship
Galway v Kilkenny, Kenny Park, Athenry @ 5pm
Referee: Cathal Egan (Cork)
Limerick v Offaly, Gaelic Grounds @ 5pm
Referee: Fintan McNamara (Clare)
Clare v Cork, Sixmilebridge GAA @ 5pm
Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare)
Dublin v Meath, Parnells GAA @ 5pm
Referee: Owen Elliot (Antrim)
Tipperary v Waterford, The Ragg @ 5pm
Referee: Andrew Larkin (Cork)
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship
Cork v Kilkenny, Cork Camogie Grounds @ 5pm
Referee: Mike Ryan (Tipperary)
Galway v Antrim, Kenny Park, Athenry @ 3pm
Referee: Alan Doheny (Laois)
Kildare v Westmeath, St. Conleth’s Park, Newbridge @ 5pm
Referee: Philip McDonald (Cavan)
Carlow v Wexford, Netwatch Cullen Park @ 5pm
Referee: Gavin Donegan (Dublin)
Derry v Laois, Swatragh @ 5pm
Referee: Paul Ryan (Kildare)
Tipperary v Down, The Ragg @ 3pm
Referee: John McDonagh (Galway)