St Rynagh’s camogie girls will face Kilkenny champions Young Irelands in their first ever Leinster Intermediate Camogie club Championship final at Nowlan Park, Kilkenny on Sunday next, November 18, with throw in at 12.30pm in the first of a double header with Thomastown playing St Martin’s of Wexford at 2.30pm in the senior decider.
After securing their back to back county championship titles a few weeks ago, the Shannonsiders went on to break the mould by beating Carlow champions Myshall 0-14 to 0-9 recently for the first time in the history of the club in a hard and tough semi-final.
St Rynagh’s have matured a lot in recent years and relish this first Leinster final challenge with a quiet belief that they are capable of taking the spoils.
“In fact, it will only be our fourth game ever in the Leinster Championship,” said manager Albert Kelly. “We won our first ever Senior Offaly Final last year, so in many respects this is all very new to the players so it obviously means a lot to both players and management alike along with all associated with St Rynagh's Camogie Club.” The girls reached their set target and now this Leinster test with be a stern one. “We set out our stall early in the year to be in this very position and to have achieved our goals so far is very pleasing to all involved,” he said. Praising the community support for the players, the Banagher man said “to be fair to the locality they really are behind us. Their support for the team throughout the Offaly championship was great and they really showed up in great numbers for the county semi-final and final. Furthermore, the homecoming the night of the County Final was great and the supporters again showed up in their droves to congratulate all involved.
“For our Leinster quarter final we were at home to Naas and the support was again excellent. The standing ovation the panel received when leaving the field I think caught us all by surprise, but it was great. Again, for the semi final against Myshall the support was immense, and for us being the away team, I think we probably outnumbered the home support by possible five to one. The crowd really drove on the team in the final quarter of that game. They have waited 25 years for a Senior Team to reach a Leinster Club Final, therefore, I think they are enjoying their time at present and they are quickly becoming the 16th women on the field and long may it continue.
“But that semi final was a real character building day for the girls. After a strong start and dominating the first third of the game, Myshall had an extended purple patch and got us back to a point with a few minutes to go. Our girls dug deep and came good again at the right time in the game to run out five point winners and I believe this will stand them in good stead into the future,” he said.
A busy man, only last week Albert Kelly took on the captaincy of Birr Golf Club for the next twelve months, but he and fellow selectors Roy Mannion and Nigel White have invested a lot of work in preparing the girls, first for championship and now a longer Leinster campaign this season than last where they went straight to the semi-final only to be beaten by eventual All Ireland winners Johnstownbridge. However, regardless of the length of time, Kelly believes the girls will handle the big occasion in their stride. “We will have prepared them diligently for the occasion and ensure they are informed of what to expect’ he said.
St Rynagh’s have a well balanced team, a mixture of the seasoned player with the younger ones coming up through the ranks. A whopping seventeen of the side are playing minor after management brought them on board this year believing the mixture as critical to any panel and which will benefit the club into the future. But the side also have born leaders and management recognise their contribution to both club and county through the years.
Such big occasions as a first Leinster final, bring their own pressures. Pressure on players to deliver having gone so far and pressure on management to have their charges well prepared for the occasion. “You always feel the pressure in the build up to the big games whether that is as a player or a manager, that’s just a natural instinct. I only try and control the things that I can control. We as a management team have a process and this is what we instil into our players. Personally I just like to close out the noise and focus on the task in hand. I believe if you don’t feel some pressure then you’re not clued into the task that lies ahead of you. It is how you handle the pressure on the day that counts and not let it affect your performance in a negative way. I also believe pressure is a test of your own character, therefore, it isn’t something you succumb to if you want to succeed. We will have prepared to the best of our ability for this game, as we would have done for all previous championship games. After that it is all about staying focused, sticking to the game plan and going through the processes,” said Kelly.
Management are delighted with the progress in training in the run up to the Sunday date and report that there is a great buzz amongst the players. “I have asked a lot of questions of the girls this week in training and as is the norm with them they have answered positively,” said the manager.However, there are some injury concerns and the players concerned will need the week in the build up to the final before a decision on their availability can be made but dual players Roisin Egan and Kate Kenny will be available for selection.
St Rynagh’s panel: Ellen Gilligan, Hannah Plunkett, Roisin Daly, Brenda Wynne, Linda Sullivan (JC), Trish Nugent (JC), Ann Daly, Niamh Finneran, Roisin Egan, Elaine Sullivan, Laura Clancy, Helen Dolan, Louise Mannion, Aoife McLoughlin, Maebh Doorley, Aine Doorley, Grainne Dolan, Muireann Nolan, Louise Flannery, Kate Kenny, Siobhan Flannery, Mairead Daly, Anna McGuckin, Heather Moran, Sinead Moran, Ellie Hickey, Katie Ryan, Ciara O’Connell, Dearbhla Kelly, Sarah Pearl, Olwyn Kenny.