By Shaun Casey
COUNTY champions Clann Éireann are hitting form at the right time and this Friday evening, they’ll be hoping to extend their winning streak to four in a row. Manager Ruairi Lavery, in his first year in charge, has had a fairly tough season as county commitments and injuries have denied him a full chance to get his best 15 on the field.
“We wouldn’t be the only ones who would be without county men so that does level the playing field somewhat but some of our non-county key men like Shea (Heffron), Jack (Conlon), who’s really come to the fore for us this year, Daniel Magee also missed a significant part of the league and Conor McConville (were injured),” said Lavery.
“Like every other team, everybody’s got injuries, we certainly didn’t want to make a big deal of it because we’re fortunate in a way, we carry big numbers, we’ve got a very good squad and lads coming through.”
Heffron, Conlon, Magee and McConville have returned in recent weeks while Conor Turbitt and Barry McCambridge, who spent the summer in America, are expected back in the middle of August.
“The experience those younger lads have got and the development they’ve got will stand us in good stead going forward. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that our results have improved. They definitely have helped us in terms of recent results but even in the games, when the results went against us, we were always in the games, for the most part.
“There were a few games, maybe the Madden game, we probably didn’t play well on the evening but some of the other games, we maybe had that bit of experience missing. We were in the games and it’s very small margins that turn the result against you.
“We’re delighted to have guys back and momentum building at the right time of the season, but I don’t want to diminish the work, even in defeat, by some of the guys coming in and pushing for places.”
With three league games remaining, all focus will soon turn towards the business end of the season and Clann Éireann begin their title defence against Mullaghbawn in the first round of the championship.
“Every club now in terms of their conditioning, in terms of the preparation and tactics, it could literally come down to a kick of the ball, not only in sixty minutes but we’re preparing for all the eventualities.
“We’re definitely coming into a bit of form at the right time and guys coming back but Mullaghbawn, we had a couple of big battles with them last year. We had to go to Mullaghbawn to secure promotion from (division) 1B to 1A and the scoreline probably looked more comfortable than it was on the day.
“I had previously taken our u-21 team and we won a championship just before Covid, we were actually in the semi-final of Ulster, but it never finished. We came across Mullaghbawn there so myself and the management team but more so the players will be familiar with the challenge that Mullaghbawn will bring.”