LIBERTY INSURANCE ALL-IRELAND SENIOR CAMOGIE QUARTER-FINALS
Cork v Offaly
Cork won five All-Ireland titles in the last decade but have not added to their overall tally of 24 since 2009.
It would be easy for the likes of this year’s captain Anna Geary, recently-married Jenny O’Leary, Briege Corkery, Rena Buckley, Aoife Murray, Gemma O’Connor and companyc to have called it quits at this stage but they clearly retain a voracious appetite for glory.
Offaly have improved in the course of their Group 2 campaign. They suffered a horrific 23-point loss at the hands of League champions Kilkenny early on but the two-point defeat by Clare probably restored confidence.
Elaine Dermody, Aoife Kelly and Michaela Morkan are redoubtable campaigners that have come through the ranks in recent years and already hold junior and intermediate All-Ireland medals.
Cork will be very wary of the fact that Offaly almost shocked Wexford in last year’s quarter-final, failing by the narrowest of margins. The Lee-siders will need to improve on what they have delivered to date but they will be favourites to advance to the semi-finals.
Clare v Galway
This is a heavyweight pairing, with the All-Ireland champions playing the National League finalists. Clare already have Galway’s scalp this year but despite their gradual progress in recent seasons to the point where they are now a team to be feared by everyone, they have yet to topple one of the big guns in the knockout stages of the ultimate competition. They will see this as a good opportunity.
The question, of course, is where are Galway at? Does Tony Ward have them timing their run, to be primed from this juncture onwards?
There is no measuring stick for the influence Therese Maher had on this side and now that she has retired, it is clearly going to be difficult to replace her leadership attributes, not to mention her magnificence as a centre-back.
Clare are physically strong and they have shown good mental fortitude too to recover from a 14-point defeat in the League final by Kilkenny. That was their first ever national senior decider though and they defeated Galway and Cork to get there.
Eimear Considine is fully recovered from a knee ligament injury suffered in the League final, while Deirdre Murphy continues to lead the way. Máire McGrath is inspirational at full-back and Chloe Morey, Claire McMahon and Niki Kaiser are all accurate freetakers.