Tipperary Intermediate camogie team will contest the Division 2 League final this coming Saturday April 20 when they face Kilkenny.
The Premier county’s second team are making their mark, their first final appearance since records began back in 1980 and surprisingly, their opponents Kilkenny haven’t won one either.
Tipp have had a lot of mixed fortunes at this level down through the years even forced to withdraw from competition in 2014 for several reasons while just two years ago they didn’t field a team for the league. Last season however, Tipp made inroads and only lost two of their six games losing out to a semi-final appearance on mere score difference.
This is indeed a huge leap for the intermediate team as their manager for the second year running Bill Mullaney agrees. “One of the goals going into last year was to get the intermediate team going and see if we could develop players from there. It is important that we have teams in all the competitions. They have earned their way to the final. We have a very small panel to draw from and I am delighted the way they have come together well and are fully committed to what we are trying to do,” he said.
Nervous of their first appearance in the final stage, players are obviously well aware of the importance of reaching this final but nerves are to be expected said their manager. “We have never been in this position before. However we have a good few experienced players who are a great asset to the panel and will help with the inexperienced players. It is a new challenge for players and management alike and I am sure that there will be nerves amongst the panel but it is how we manage those nerves and try not to let them get the better of us,” he said.
The disappointment of letting last year’s championship All Ireland semi final slip from their grasp will no doubt come to bear on this league final too.
“There was huge disappointment alright,” agrees Mullaney as he continues “and I think that loss has stood to them as a team and brought them on. It showed them that you can take nothing for granted. It was a game we should have won going so well at half time and I think the experience from that day has taught them a real and valuable lesson. Hopefully it will benefit them in a tight final,” he said. “We have a lot of experienced players mixed with new players who bring lots of energy and heart into the team and they have developed well since our opening day loss to Meath, beating Down, Cork, Carlow, Derry and Westmeath all tough matches and pushed us to our limit. We are a small panel but they are working hard and train well together,” he said.
Their opponents Kilkenny will pose a massive challenge though but this is something both management and players know only too well.
“We played them (Kilkenny) is a challenge game at the beginning of the year. It was a tough and tight game. While both teams were still starting out on the new season you could see the quality that Kilkenny have. They are a well coached skilful team with strong hurlers. We will have to play better than all our other matches to win it. Kilkenny are strong physically and have an abundance of pace in the forwards,” said the Newport Ballinahinch club man.
Despite all that, Tipperary rightly deserve to be in this final and going into the game in a “very positive frame of mind”. “We know it is a big task but we have developed well, are training well and have matured together in a short space of time. These finals are the goals of where you want to be and hopefully we will play well leading to a good result,” he stated.
Tipperary are managed by Manager - Bill Mullaney (Newport/Ballinahinch), Maor Foirme – Niamh Lillis (Drom/Inch), Coaches, Dinny Ferncombe, Eddie Costello, Selectors, Carmel Bradshaw (Ballina), Cian Treacy (Thurles Sarsfields), S&C, Paddy Quinlan, Physio, Brian Hurley and Dr Paul Scully completes the line up.