FOR the 12th consecutive year, Galway prepare for an All-Ireland senior camogie semi-final this Saturday (Gaelic Grounds, 5pm) when they face Cork in a contest that will define their season.
Dublin produced a shock eliminating Wexford while Clare, Limerick and Tipperary had their moments, but there always seemed an inevitably that the Tribeswomen would find themselves in the final four and face the test that would dictate how their year would be viewed.
Galway’s pass/fail status is based on simply qualifying for Croke Park. Beat the Rebelettes and they’ll toast another All-Ireland final appearance. Suffer defeat and questions will be asked whether they’ve slipped from the elite.
The counties met in the 2015 All-Ireland final when Cork emerged triumphant 1-13 to 0-9. Galway prevailed in their previous two meetings, including the league final but they haven’t met since that September showdown.
“We didn’t play them (Cork) at all last year so you are going back to that 2015 All-Ireland,” stated Galway captain Heather Cooney when asked if that final will help motivation. “I mean there are certain things you think about but at the end of the day, it’s an All-Ireland semi-final.
“We’ll just come in and give it our best shot and hopefully whatever it takes to get girls going on the day – be it just being in an All-Ireland semi-final, be it thinking back to that 2015 All-Ireland. Whatever it is, I’ve no doubt we will go in on the day with the right attitude and the right mindset.”
There’s a feeling the county is drifting from the leading pack, but Galway have only been marginally the wrong side of recent results.
“We didn’t concentrate on Cork until now because we couldn’t,” said manager Mark Dunne. “But our aim is to be the best team in the country and to do that, we have to beat the best. All-Irelands don’t come easy or getting to All-Irelands don’t come easy.”
“That is being billed as the All-Ireland I suppose since they were last year’s finalists – Cork and Kilkenny. They were this year’s league finalists. Everyone has them ahead of the pack. I don’t think it has any effect on our camp. I doubt very much it does in Cork’s camp. Cork and Galway games have never much in it.”
Cork lost last year’s All-Ireland final and have looked a side with intent this year, booking their spot this weekend by topping Group B comfortably.
Captain Rena Buckley is focusing on camogie while Gemma O’Connor, Ashling Thompson, Aoife Murray, Katriona and Pamela Mackey remain key. And even though Briege Corkery hasn’t surfaced, Libby Coppinger, Amy O’Connor, Orla Cotter and Hannah Looney are dangerous attackers.
Full preview in this week’s Connacht Tribune.