Tipperary camogie followers are pinning their hopes of the young under 16A squad in keeping the Blue and Gold flag flying when the side meets Galway this coming Saturday August 3 at 12 noon in what can only be described as a feast of camogie in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, with the two Senior Quarter finals, Offaly and Wexford following at 2pm and Tipperary v Galway at 4pm.
Noelle Kennedy (Toomevara) brought Tipperary to an All-Ireland final back in 2009 but they were to lose to Galway by four points that day. Kennedy changed the fortunes of Tipperary camogie at this level as it was 15 years previously since they last won an All-Ireland.
The following year 2010, Galway claimed victory again by four points and in 2011 under the management of Tim Maher (Burgess/Duharra), Tipperary scraped by Kilkenny on the narrowest of margins to win their first All-Ireland after a seventeen year drought. It was history in the making but Maher had no luck the following season with his charges exiting the competition after losing two of their three games and drawing the third which wasn’t enough to see them through.
With a new man at the helm in the person of Brian Boyle from the Drom & Inch club and a new well balanced team coming through, the new manager and his charges is now facing into their first All-Ireland final and Galway providing the opposition.
When the sides met earlier in the championship Tipperary came away with a five point win, but Boyle doesn’t want to even think of before and says - “Anything that has gone before will not count on the day. The girls know that too. No two matches are the same and I see this will be a very tough battle. Having said that our girls have responded to our every call in training and matches. Galway are a well balanced side with very good players right through but we have them too. Our girls commitment has been exceptional and they’ve displayed a great hunger to improve every time they come to the field.
“This will be the toughest challenge of the year. Galway are an exceptional team and we will need be able to bring everything to the table for the full 60 minutes and more to be in with a chance”.
Tipperary have full respect for Galway and know that they must forget before and think of the moment.
“That game was very close for large periods with nothing between the sides. There was some exceptional camogie played by both sides and we got the breaks at the right time. We know that game means little going into the final as both teams are targeting a different prize now and it will count for nothing when the ball is thrown in” said Boyle of the last outing.
Other than Karen Kennedy who has been carrying an injury since the first game, the manager and his backroom team of Ailish Maher, Mary Howard and Frances O’Brien have no injury worries for the big game.
However, that said, Boyle may line out a different side that played in the Semi-Final.
“Every day we have gone out different people have stepped up to the mark and our subs have provided us with great strength in depth in each and every game this year.
“No championship match never mind an All-Ireland can be won with just 15 players”.
Although Tipperary are the red hot favourites for Saturday’s clash, the manager is somewhat bothered about this tag and says - “We know we still have to improve from our group games and semi-final to be in with a shout. We know that’s within our capabilities though.
“Favourites tag never put a score on the board and the girls know that. When the ball is thrown in next weekend the score is 0-0 and whoever wants this All-Ireland the more will come out on top.
“Both our A and B panels have shown a serious attitude to work since the start of a year and when you have that you can and will improve all the time. We would like to think we have improved but we are acutely aware that so have Galway as we saw against Cork and our girls will not rest on their laurels going into this game’.
Captain Roisin Howard from Cahir is a very level headed and realistic youngster and like the manager, she too is cautiously optimistic.
While she acknowledges that her side have improved over the months she also knows that Galway will be fired up for revenge.
“This game will go right down to the wire but I’m confident we can bring the All-Ireland cup back to Tipperary” she said.
Roisin who plays in the half forward line will be joined by fellow club mate Carol Casey who commands the corner back berth.