FRIENDSHIP will be put to one side for 60 minutes tomorrow afternoon for Kildare’s Grace Clifford and Wicklow’s Jackie Kinch as their two teams prepare to battle it out in a crucial Lidl Division 3 game in Dunlavin (2pm throw in).
With Kildare and Wicklow having identical records of won one and lost one so far in the league neither side will want to miss the opportunity to keep pace with league leaders Meath and Roscommon.
For Clifford and Kinch, that means forgetting about a friendship that was built up while both were students on the GAA course in IT Carlow.
“You have to just park it for an hour and focus on the game,” said Kildare captain Clifford.
“As much as you do take your friendship into account at the end of the day when you walk out onto that pitch you have a different jersey on and are with a different group of girls,” added Kinch, who is hoping to have recovered sufficiently from a hand injury to take her place on the Wicklow team.
Their time in college meant that they have been team mates more times than on the opposing team and that allowed them to build up a good understanding of each other’s game.
“I loved playing with Jackie, when you are in the forwards she always gives in the perfect balls,” said Clifford.
“You get used to playing with each other and as well, when you are friends and living together you are walking home together after matches and talking through it all. When you spend that sort of time together it’s a lot easier to ask what kind of ball they like so you get to know how each other plays,” added Kinch.
“We’ve played with each other in college more than we have actually played against other so we know each other’s game really well,” said Clifford.
The most high profile game that the two have played against each other so far was in club action when Kinch’s Tinahely beat Clifford’s Eadestown in the Leinster Intermediate Championship in 2015.
“We actually played against each other in minor too before we knew each other, we only realised when we were in college going through some old photos and we saw each other, we were marking each other for the whole game and never even knew it,” said Kinch.
“The first proper competitive game we played against each when we were friends was that Leinster Club game. I was absolutely bricking it before that game, I didn’t know if I should tackle Grace if she came near me. I was like, wondering if we’d still be friends after it,” laughed Kinch.
Clifford added: “It’s different too when your whole friendship has been based on being on the same team. Say, me and Roisin (Byrne), I’ve known her all my life but we’ve grown up playing against each other for the club so we are used to that.”
The pair were able to relive their college days when they were back in the same jersey when representing Leinster in the Interprovincial competition.
“That was so nice about playing together again for Leinster,” said Clifford.
There will be no need to cut the lines of communication this week and the two friends won’t have any trouble in greeting each other before the game.
“I’ll probably get in trouble for this but I’d love to see Grace play a good game – but obviously for us to win as well. I wouldn’t wish her bad luck, I’d prefer Grace played badly and for us to win but in an ideal world she’d play well and we would win,” said Kinch.
Kildare will hope that’s not the case as they go in search of what would be a crucial three points. Clifford has again been named in midfield for Kildare for the game, indeed manager Daniel Moynihan has named the same starting 15 that began in the defeat last time out against Roscommon. It means that Moynihan again places his faith in a very young team, but one that is gaining in experience of senior football all the time.
Kildare v Wicklow: Rebecca McGuirk (Suncroft), Rachel Cribbin (Balyna), Rose Mernagh (Eadestown), Amy Horan (Ballymore), Shauna Kendrick (Sarsfields), Lara Gilbert (Kildangan Nurney), Trina Duggan (Suncroft), Sarah Munnelly (Confey), Grace Clifford (Eadestown), Lara Curran (Milltown), Ellen Dowling (Suncroft), Molly Price (Sarsfields), Orlaith Sullivan (Carbury), Neasa Dooley (Castledermot), Aoife Rattigan (Cappagh).