Fitzpatrick says Clonduff have grown closer

All-Ireland Camogie Intermediate

Club Championship semi-final

Clonduff (Down) v Gailltír (Waterford)

Sunday, Clane, 2pm

CLONDUFF player Cassie Fitzpatrick has said that a recent training weekend in Dublin has really refocused their minds ahead of their All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final against Waterford outfit Gailltír on Sunday.

The Hilltown side are the current holders of the Agnes O’Farrelly Cup and are now just two steps away from back-to-back triumphs, but they know that the Munster champions will be intent on revenge having lost out to Clonduff in last year’s final.

Fitzpatrick, however, is confident that they can deal with the target on the back while she believes that the training weekend has kept them sharp given that their Ulster final win over Eglish was all the way back on October 12 last year.

We had a couple of weeks off to start with after the Ulster final,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve had training weekends away, we were away down in Dublin there recently and we stayed over.

It was great to get the different perspective from other managers. You always have that bond that develops even more on weekends away like that.

Everyone was staying in the same room and it just brought us closer together, you try and bring that bond onto the pitch.”

While both these sides have the memory of reaching last year’s final at Croke Park, only the Yellas have the experience of winning that game following that tense 0-10 to 0-9 win last March.

Fitzpatrick feels that the players will be even more prepared this time for the All-Ireland series, and she feels that the management team of Damian Farnon, Alastair McGilligan and Aaron Graffin would have picked up plenty from last year’s historic run also.

We know what to expect more this time,” she said. “Even the management there, they knew more about what is needed in terms of training to be ready for these games.

We all knew the hard work that needed to be put in to get back to this stage. Hopefully the experience of last season can really help us too.”

The team may be littered with stars on the club and county scene but Fitzpatrick said that the butterflies will still envelope the dressing room in Clane this weekend.

The nerves are always there because you always want more,” she said.

It is such a big deal, that feeling of winning never gets old and that’s why you play camogie.

Everyone loves it and everyone is looking forward to another big occasion.”

Clonduff are an example of how a club can operate all codes without major issues.

Their camogs are back-to-back Ulster Intermediate champions while their football team reached the Down Senior semi-final last season. Their hurlers continue to make strides forward and they pushed Carryduff and Bredagh hard in the 2019 Intermediate Championship while their ladies footballers won the Down Junior title last September.

Fitzpatrick said that the Hilltown support really means a lot to the team as they go in search of more All-Ireland glory.

That’s the one thing, the community really does get behind us and that’s such a boost in games like these.”

The ‘R’ word will definitely be brought up when discussing Gailltír’s motivation for this game.

These are exciting times for camog in the county with Dan Shanahan recently being appointed as head coach of their senior team.

He will be running his eye over a number of Gailltír players as they hope to reach Croke Park for the second year in a row.

Aine Lyng’s super form earned her another All-Star nomination for her county last year while Annie Fitzgerald, who scored seven of their nine points against Clonduff last March, continues to lead the line.

They retained their Munster title with a 2-17 to 1-11 win over Toomevara back in November – Aoife Fitzgerald and Emer Walsh with their goals.

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