Galway need a big performance to break 17-year camogie duck
By Ray Silke
Galway senior and intermediate camogie team manager Tony Ward has every reason to be is looking forward to Sunday.
The Sarsfields man has prepared the county’s two adult camogie teams for Sunday’s All Ireland finals with the seniors facing Kilkenny (4pm) and the intermediate side up against Limerick (2pm).
The possibly of a double All Ireland success on the same day is exciting, but Ward is not allowing hype or loose talk to enter the equation.
"The mood is very positive in both panels,” he says. “ All the girls are just focussing on producing big performances. Individually and collectively. Nobody is talking about winning an All-Ireland. We are concentrating on being the best we can be on the day. Our mantra is to focus on the performance, being really positive in what we are doing, and the result in both games will take care of itself."
Ward has been down this road before at senior level. He was team manager in 1996 when the county last won the O' Duffy Cup with Imelda Hobbins as team captain. It was a great achievement, but, he insists, it is in the past.
"That was a long time ago and it is well time that Galway won a senior camogie All-Ireland again. The more experienced players on the panel were hugely disappointed by the final defeats of 2010 and 2011, and likewise the semi-final defeat to Cork last year was a big let-down. So, hopefully that hurt and those lessons will stand us in good stead on Sunday. We got a monkey off our back with the win in the semi-final over Wexford, but Kilkenny are a very good team and we will have to produce a really good display if we are going to beat them and bring home the O' Duffy Cup.
Kilkenny beat the favourites Cork in the semi-final and also beat Galway in their group game earlier in the year, so Ward knows nothing will be easy this weekend. However, he says, there is strong belief within this year’s panel.
“We have some really talented and experienced players who know what they have to do if we are to win this game."
Therese Maher is one example - hugely talented and experienced, and desperate to end a long career with a winner’s medal. Next Sunday will be the Athenry player's sixth All-Ireland final and yet she has never won a senior medal. Her commitment to Galway's cause is acknowledged by Tony Ward and her on-going form has been a key factor in Galway getting back to another final.
For Galway to win, Maher, Ann Marie Hayes, Sinead Cahalan, Niamh Kilkenny and team captain Lorriane Ryan will all have to produce big displays. Ward also believes a good start will be imperative.
"It is a 50:50 game, and the team that settles the best into the game will be hard to stop. It is really important we start well and settle into a good groove. Hopefully, the fact that our intermediate team are in Croke Park too, will mean that we have a good Galway support and that would be a plus."
Ward is joined on his management team this year by former county star Liam Hodgins as trainer, and selectors Orla Watson, Declan Walsh and Seamie Crowe.
The side has been in good scoring form, defeating Tipperary by 16 points in the quarter-final (2-19 to 0-9), and Wexford by nine points in the semi-final (1-12 to 0-6). Hopefully the scores will continue to flow this weekend and Galway can break the 17-year duck.
Ward says all Galway support on Sunday would be greatly appreciated and tickets can be purchased via local Centra and Supervalu, or from the ticket office at 1890 924648 or at http://www.tickets.ie/camogie .
Ticket prices are €30 for adults and €5 for children.