I SPOKE with a number of managers this week ahead of the senior club championship which throws in today. One common trend was that they were all delighted to be back on the pitch and eagerly looking forward to the weekend ahead.
For those with senior inter-county players in their squad, the difference having those players available for training has been worth its weight in gold.
Inniscarra’s Kevin Mulcahy has a full squad to pick from.
"It’s great to have Aoife Kavanagh, Joanne Casey and Rosie O’Mahony back. They were a big loss to the group but in fairness to the rest of the girls stepped up to the mark last year. We had a programme during the lockdown and the girls came back in good condition.
"We don’t have any player on the senior inter-county squad this year and it’s a huge difference and it’s good that every club has the chance to have their players, it’s a very short window and it’s only fair they have them.
"The structure of the championship is great too and in fairness theres time for a break in between games too. We have a couple of dual players and ensuring they weren’t overloaded once we went back was key. We’re facing Ballincollig in a local derby. We know each other well so there won’t be much in it."
The man behind Ballygarvan camogie for many years Ollie Hallihan is looking forward to the challenge of St Catherine's.
"We’re a young team, some of the older players are gone. But you know, a lot of our young girls have a minor B and two minor A titles behind them so we have talent and the great thing about young players is that they try hard. St Catherine's are tough but we’ll give it a good shot."
Last year Brian Barry had to step back from his involvement with Killeagh for personal reasons.
"I came back this year and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. We kept in contact during Covid, we put programmes on our group chat but there was no pressure on the girls. We were very much in contact with them on a personal level, ensuring they were all okay.
"Looking to the year ahead, we haven’t really been getting the scores on the board and we hope to rectify that. We have the three Cork girls all the time. They bring a professional approach to our training and training has ramped up because of their presence.
"Facing Newcestown, they won the intermediate last year so will come out with a bit of a buzz in them. We know we’re going to have it tough, they’ve nothing to lose and will give it everything. There’s an expectation on us."
Brian O’Sullivan, manager of St Finbarr's is delighted, to have Gemma O’Connor around.
"We’re back about four weeks as a collective group and we’re just looking forward to the game against Douglas to be honest. Douglas are a good side but we’re just focusing on ourselves. We’ve played a few challenge games which were good competitive games.
"There was no league and we didn’t have a summer cup either. But it's the same for everyone. We’ve the same group as last year, with a few U16s coming up as part of the squad.
"It’s great having Gemma training with us. The younger girls in particular are in awe of having her on the pitch and Gemma is a fantastic club person. The likes of Gemma and the older girls set the tone in training."
Tim Barry-Murphy is back with Cloughduv after a number of years.
"Thankfully we all came out the right side of Covid and it’s great to get back out onto the pitch training. Every team was completely disrupted so everyone is starting from the same position. I suppose we’re between teams in that a lot of the older girls have moved on and we’re quite young. So, it’s a learning curve for us.
"Courcey Rovers will always give you a tough game. They’re a very committed outfit with some great hurlers. We’re expecting a tough game but the girls are in good form and looking forward to it."
Mike Boland of Courcey Rovers is hoping everyone stays healthy.
"I think in fairness to all teams they’re trying to do the right thing in the sense of looking after each other. We had a lot of injuries last year and then coming into the match we lost Jacinta Crowley and Fiona Keating, that was the nail in the coffin. We’re back together about four weeks now. I suppose it’s like pre-season training but things are good in the camp. The girls are comfortable and enjoying it."
Éire Óg stepped up to the senior ranks in 2019 and Ken Murphy was happy with how it went for them.
"We were happy with how it played out for us. We had a level of success underage which was a help, the older and younger players gelled together. But last year is gone now. Timmy Kelleher of Erins Own is coaching us. We shut down for the Covid period but we’re back at it now and going well.
"We’re facing Milford and while they may not be as strong as they were in the past they are still a very strong outfit. But we’re looking forward to it. It’s great to be back."