THE Limerick camogie team who claimed the All-Ireland intermediate title in September have been named the Persons of the Month for their inspiring come-back having been beaten on the same stage the previous year.
The team pulled off a stunning win over Kilkenny with the Croke Park scoreboard reading 1-12 to 0-10 at full-time.
Captain Fiona Hickey climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand to lift the winning trophy and make amends for their final loss 12 months previous when they failed narrowly to Galway.
“It was lovely to achieve what we knew we could have achieved the year before but didn’t quite make it,” said Fiona this week at the Person of the Month presentation in the Clarion Hotel.
“The day after losing in 2013, we were talking about Croke Park again – it wasn’t a case of being cocky – we just knew we had let ourselves down.”
The team was led by manager Joe Quaid who said he couldn’t have been happier for the squad after their immense commitment to the cause.
“It was just reward for the huge amount of work by the girls - we have girls travelling from Dublin and Cork and Galway two to three nights a week,” said the Murroe-Boher clubman.
“We train every Wednesday and Friday and we would be out every weekend with matches. It’s 12 months a year. Some of the girls haven’t had a break in two years. It’s a professional game, played by amateurs. They never ask for much.”
At this time of the year, he said, there was great satisfaction to be had in sitting back and reflecting on the year that was.
“The goodwill that is out around the county for the girls is great. Winning in Croke Park against Kilkenny was a huge bonus especially after the two hurling teams were beaten there by Kilkenny. I think it made it all the sweeter.
“To get back again after losing the year previously was the hardest part and the longest wait but once we got back there we learned from the year before and knew we were a lot better prepared. We went up the night before which made a huge difference rather than going up on a bus in the morning. To be fair to Tom Moran and Moran hotels, they sponsored the two nights. Small little things like that made a difference. We were a lot more relaxed going to Croke Park - the fear factor was gone.”
The win, which ensured that Limerick win promotion to the senior championship, has done wonders for the promotion of camogie in the county with young children now having new role models to look up to, Joe said.
“It’s hugely important – the friends you make out of it. The discipline you learn. I would go to matches seven nights a week if I could – it’s a way of life. Anybody who says it’s hard work, they shouldn’t be in it. It’s for the love of it we do it - the girls sacrifice so much between boyfriends, family life, going out, holidays.
“Diet-wise and drinking- wise, we have never really had to address that with the girls – they really do look after themselves. They are very, very professional in their approach – it’s something we never had to tackle. We had 50 girls training this year and, to be fair, there wasn’t an issue in the world. Everybody drove each other on – they are like a family at this stage.”
Half-back, Katie Campbell, said the win meant a huge amount after the loss in 2013.
“Everyone was so gutted in 2013 so it was great to come back and win in front of all our friends and family. Our families are there from January in the wind and rain - you have a bigger crowd on All-Ireland final day but they are there all year.”
Sean Condon, chairman of the camogie board, said he was “very proud of the team and management. It’s great for promotion of camogie in the county. The girls have role models who they may not have had before and that is huge - it makes promotion of the game easier. There is a buzz in the schools – it’s cool to play camogie,” he smiled.