After the bitter disappointment of last year’s two-point defeat to Wexford in the All-Ireland final there is a strong belief this year’s Galway camogie panel can collect the senior title on Sunday in Croke Park (4pm ) when they face Wexford again.
Killimor’s terrific All-Ireland success in the club competition earlier in the year has given the panel belief. With seven of those players on the county panel, including team captain Brenda Hanney, Ann Marie Hayes and Ann Marie Starr, there is a feeling the county team can go to Croke Park on Sunday and replicate their triumph.
It is a feeling shared by Galway’s wing-forward and free-taker Aislinn Connolly. The Castlegar player, who is a daughter of John, describes Sunday as a “sink or swim” game.
“We have been there or thereabouts over the past few years and it is time for us to come away with a win from an All-Ireland final. I think we are mentally stronger this year and the mood in the panel is very positive. We have been playing well and we showed some very good form in the semi-final against Kilkenny,” she says.
“We beat Wexford last June in the championship down in Enniscorthy and, if we play to our potential, we can do so again this Sunday. We have a very strong panel and we all believe we have a good enough squad to win an All-Ireland. We will be going up to give it a lash and hopefully if we play as we can, that will be good enough.”
Connolly, who works in on-line advertising with Google in Dublin, has shot 1-19 to date in the championship and she, along with Veronica Curtin (5-15 ), Niamh Kilkenny (1-16 ) and Brenda Hanney (1-15 ), will be expected to provide the scores that can power Galway to victory.
At the back, players Sinéad Cahalan, Lorraine Ryan and the half-back line of Ann Marie Hayes, Therese Maher and Heather Cooney will have to be on their game to keep out the impressive Wexford attack.
Midfielder Niamh Kilkenny shot 0-8 against Kilkenny in the semi-final and was player-of-the-match and if she and Ann Marie Starr can dominate around the middle, then Galway will take stopping.
Finn says his ladies know what it takes
The last and only time Galway won the All-Ireland senior camogie title was back in 1996, and manager Noel Finn believes this current panel are the players to bridge that 15 year gap.
“It was heartbreak last year to lose the final and, please God, things will work out differently for us on Sunday,” he says.
“We know it will be a big challenge. Wexford is a very fine team and favourites to collect another title. However, we are going well and I expect us to have a big say about things this weekend.”
Finn has changed the team around from last year when Galway were beaten by two points, relocating Therese Maher to centre-back, Brenda Hanney to full-forward, Sinéad Cahalan to full-back and Niamh Kilkenny to midfield, and Finn believes midfield those changes have worked well so far.
The Cappatagle native believes last year’s 1-12 to 1-10 defeat can be a help to get Galway over the winning line in 2011.
“The team and panel are battle-hardened from last year and we are back in another final. The girls know they did not do themselves justice in the final last year and they are really eager to make amends for that. They know what it takes now.
“We have a very strong panel with Regina Glynn and Jessica Gill, who are both former All-Stars, Noreen Coen, Martina Conroy, Sarah Dervan and Emer Haverty, who are very talented players, and they and the rest of the panel are fighting hard to get a starting jersey.
“No county will win an All-Ireland without a good squad and we have one this year. We can bring girls in now who will make a really positive impact and we are getting the scores easier. We played very well against Kilkenny in the semi-final and, if we can reproduce that kind of gusty performance and work-rate, we won’t be far away. We have worked hard all year and we are confident we can win on Sunday.”