TWENTY-four years since their hurlers created history, a new generation of Sarsfields players arrive at Croke Park on Sunday (3.15pm) to take on Slaughtneil in the All-Ireland senior club camogie final.
Twelve months ago, they travelled as supporters, cheering on Killimor wondering what it would be like some day to get their chance. Little did they think they were heading home to begin their own memorable journey.
And that’s what this young side have done in creating their own route back. Sarsfields had been knocking on the door. The Feile class of 2007 are now leaders and the club had generated more players with the same drive and determination achieving success. Last year, they captured the Catherine Donnellan Cup for the first time.
“I think four or five of them played in it with Galway at senior and intermediate level,” said manager Michael ‘Hopper’ McGrath who knows Croke Park well. “Other than that, it’s completely new to them all. They’ve been there only watching matches and that. And even the day of the match, you only have 10 minutes abroad on it before the match hits off.
“It’s huge for a club to be going to Croke Park. It’s massive, There’s a great buzz around the area. Everyone’s in good form and anticipating the day. And it’s huge for the club players to be going out in Croke Park to be playing in an All-Ireland Final representing their parish.”
A league semi-final win against Mullagh gave them belief. They completed the championship round-robin phase unbeaten but found themselves three behind at half-time in the county semi-final against Ardrahan. They came out and overturned the deficit and with 10 minutes remaining in the County Final, they came back again from three behind to force a replay against Mullagh.
Six days later, Sarsfields were champions with Siobhan McGrath’s 54th minute goal sealing the deal after a controlled second half performance. And despite all the confusions and anger that occurred before their All-Ireland semi-final five weeks ago, they didn’t lose their focus.
“That was a law onto itself what happened that day (semi-final),” said McGrath. “It all unfolded. We didn’t know what was happening. It ended up the match was played in St. Cillian’s ground. But I suppose when you come out the right side of it, everything is ok. But if it was the other way, you’d be wondering should you have played the game?
Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.