Galway lit up sport last Sunday — now let’s do it again

When we look back on last Sunday, not from the vantage point of a few days retrospection, but in a year, or five, we will realise the significance of that victory.

We will see then that the victory was not just one for Galway’s superb senior camogie players, but one for all females in sport; indeed for all sportspeople. In a year when fans were crying out for a showpiece, an epic to show the advances that have been made in terms of strength, conditioning, athleticism, skill, posture, composure, and belief.

For those of us who were in the stadium since midday, the most poignant words of the day were uttered by the captain of Kerry when in her victory speech, she mentioned that that day was the first time that a Kerry camogie team had been shown live on television. That Kerry should have to wait that long for such a spotlight, shows just how much ground had to be made up.

And with the light shining and the need for a showpiece, Galway invigorated sport in one hectic afternoon. They answered that call. In a few glorious hours, all thoughts of gender were stripped away; this was pure entertaining top class sport. Not men’s not women’s. But sport...and that is where we have to get.

Thirty one white flags were raised. The net rippled three times, and it could have been more, and yet, until the very end, the destiny of the O’Duffy Cup was undecided.

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Eight hours earlier, at community centres across the county, thousands of young sports fans awake around the city and county rubbed sleep from their eyes; they bundled onto buses with their CulCamp bags laden down with crisps and sandwiches for the day ahead. Wearing training tops for their clubs, proud to be the volume that drove on Galway, they headed east into the rising sun.

My daughter was one of them. Excited to the point of not sleeping at the thought of travelling en masse to see players who they hope to emulate. They did long days which ended with trips to Supermacs in Moate and Kinnegad.

They watched and roared as Galway won their third senior title.

Among those kids on those buses are the stars who will win Galway their tenth one.

They came, they saw, and they will do. Sunday’s game was shown globally, and in that showpiece, Galway set the pace and won the spoils.

Speaking afterwards deep in the bowels of the stadium to Cathal Murray and Niamh Kilkenny, both of them told me just what a boost it was to see those coaches full on the way up; to hear that roar when they ran up that tunnel and into the light. They know just what an inspiration a day like Sunday can be.

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And so to the big ball...and this weekend, when we travel to face the Dubs who are seeking history and a treble.

There can be no doubt that the replay of the men’s football final on Saturday night, where Dublin are seeking an unprecedented five in a row titles will have some bearing on the preparations of their female counterparts. Win or lose, they are bound to feel extra pressure either way.

So there is opportunity for Galway’s footballers, who have nothing to lose on Sunday. It is a free shot against a team who are seeking to make their own history. And Galway are no daws. They are not going up for the craic.

Last Sunday, the Galway senior camogie players brought honour and glory to the county with a spirited display in which the strengths of each of the players came to the fore. Here was a team well coached, well able to withstand adversity which in the past might have derailed them.

In every game there are moments where you just have to hang on, there are moments where you will get chances and then are many other moments which are up for grabs. And so it will be on Sunday.

Galway’s footballers have an equal steel about them. What is rare is wonderful, and they know they have to take this opportunity, knowing that they are inspiring a new generation.

Crash into those challenges, face the competition, and know in your hearts and souls that you are here in this final because you deserve to be. And that your hunger for victory has to be greater than those who have won it two years on the trot.

Take heart from the camogie players.....and don’t come home without it.

Gaillimh Abu.

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