Clare manager Ger O'Connell has pointed to the leadership provided by the experienced players in his squad as the pivotal factor in his squad bouncing back from the precipice of another group stage exit in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship.

The Bannerwomen face a stiff challenge in their first quarter-final since 2014 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday against a Cork side that impressed many in defeat to All-Ireland champions Galway last Sunday.

They may be the fresher squad though, having had an extra week to recover. Also, now that they have achieved their primary goal from the campaign, they can play with freedom as they tackle Paudie Murray’s Rebels. 

It wasn’t looking good for Clare when they lost to Tipperary in their Group 3 opener at the Ragg last month. It wasn’t the result that hurt so much as the performance during the nine-point reverse. 

They were a different outfit completely against Dublin, accelerating clear of the visitors with a power-packed second-half display at Fr McNamara Park to cement their spot in the last six. 

Afterwards, Niamh O’Dea said: "That’s the real Clare you saw there today", and O’Connell identifies O’Dea and fellow stalwarts Máire McGrath and Orlaith Duggan as key figures in the turnaround.  

"After the Tipperary game, we were really disappointed and the second half against Dublin was what we were expecting more of," says O’Connell. 

"All credit to the girls, we really tried to nail our colours to the mast and bring a big work rate and discipline to our performance. 

"They’re a talented bunch. In fairness to Clare, they’ve had really good success at underage and there are girls coming through from minor, but I thought the older girls were outstanding. 

"Niamh O’Dea, Máire McGrath and Orlaith Duggan, these girls are around Clare camogie a good while, and they haven’t been in a lot of quarter-finals. They really drove the group forward since the Tipperary game. 

"I’m just so happy for that bunch, it has been a tough few years and our goal was to get to a quarter-final. 

"I’m delighted for the group. There’s so much work goes into it and they’ve been outstanding. It’s been a year since we started and it’s great to be in a quarter-final. We’ll be ready and we’re going to give it a good go." 

Watch the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship quarter-finals live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 12.30pm Saturday with highlights on The Sunday Game, RTÉ2, 9.30pm