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Today, I got up at about 10:30, ate sausages and toast, and drank tea.
Then I went to mass with Cáit and Leo. Fr McGirr made reference to our match last week. After mass I skipped off home, gathered the rest and we went to the beach for a puck around.
Had there a good wee yarn with Mairtin McKinney, erstwhile colleague at the University, all round good guy. He regularly runs the beach despite a longstanding dodgy knee. Maith thú a Mhairtin.
After pucking the beach we headed to Watertop Farm. It was shut so we went to Cushendun. Angela and myself were there once years ago and we fed Johann the tethered goat Digestive biscuits. Johann became famous for being slaughtered in the industry induced panic over foot and mouth in 2001.
What threat a single goat in the middle of Cushendun posed to the meat trade baffled me then and still does. He lives on in the form of a lovely bronze statue at the front of the old pictuersque Cushendun Hotel (is it shut or open?).
It’s amazing what you can do in Cushendun for an hour and half or so. Two swans elegantly glided hither and thither across the small harbour. The children were asking me if the sea beyond there is the Sea of Moyle, recalling the Children of Lír. I could see how the location could prompt such a story. I wasn’t sure.
On the way home we stopped in Ballycastle for a while and had ice cream. There in the Park is a sweeping sculpture representing the Children of Lír Flying over the Sea of Moyle. Poetic, lyrical. Further talk from the children of the beautiful poignant story. It is a lovely setting.
After that we drove home and had slow cooked pork for dinner. A tired Gráinne called to watch the match highlights.
A wholly mundane day, doing little of substance.
And it was magic.
To myself, Saturday 3 March. The night before. When the self doubt starts.
It eats me up I can feel the gnawing in my stomach making me want to puke. Fight or flight I suppose, having started down this road, riding this roller coaster you can’t get off. I feel strapped in. I wouldn’t rather be at home but I would.
Every games like this except these ones are worse, the secret is to trust the players. Hand it over to them. Can they do what they always do. Is that enough? The frustration lies in watching them and hoping they will do something they’ve never done. Wishing someone to be something they are not. People can only do things their way, not any other players way.
The reality is we try and condition them to do and act and perform in a particular way in a given situation. Give them those tools. If they don’t have the tools they can’t do it. So we have to trust the players. Collectively are they able to compensate for each other. Individually can they win their individual battles.
Why do I put myself through this? Why? Do I enjoy it? For the fleeting moment of joy, or the satisfaction of knowing I can do it. I suppose it gives others pleasure and enjoyment. But me? I dunno. I feel responsible for raising their hopes & dreams. Better to be here than not. Others would give their arm to be here. Coyote Camogie.
If you never try you’ll never know and in truth, you need to know. It really comes back to those nights and days in places like Lavey when we realized, yes, we can. We can. Hand it over to the players. It’s in their hands now.
No doubt about it Ardrahan are the best team we’ve played – they asked more questions of our players than anyone else has and full credit to them for that.
To come from behind and win against quality opposition makes this all the sweeter. I’d say the neutrals and maybe a few of our own supporters thought we were dead and buried at half time.
But we didn’t – the players themselves knew they could do better and it was a matter of reminding them at half time that the qualities that won one All Ireland were still available to them to win another.They hadn’t turned into bad players over 30 minutes and they needed to be reminded of that.
It was a matter of belief and a bit of self confidence and a few wee adjustments. The impetus came from the girls themselves, they are serious competitors. They weren’t giving this up without a fight.
The way they set about reeling in the deficit was a real joy to watch. Then when we were ahead, to defend two penalties. You couldn’t script that! Gráinne saved a couple in Kilmacud Sevens 7s a few years ago so I knew it wasn’t cut and dried that they would score.
All the team were magnificent, Gráinne deserved player of the match, Méabh, Jane Carey and Kelly Maybin too were brilliant. I would single out also Megan’s two points which were awesome scores just when they were needed.
It’s a good day for Ulster anytime you win in Croke Park. These girls deserve all the credit. Ulster Camogie is alive and well – and we’re happy to fly the flag for that no matter what anyone says. Back to back titles in Croke Park. You can’t argue with that no matter who you are.