Go for it now, and don’t wait in hope for tomorrow! That was the simple let it rip message from Kilkenny camogie coach, Niall Williams, to his charges before Sunday’s eagerly awaited All-Ireland final against Galway.
“We have a nicely balanced team,” insisted the Westmeath man who joined the backroom team at the start of the season. “Both counties are looking at the final as a good opportunity to go the distance. Camogie is all about the here and now.
“Some of the girls might go travelling or to work abroad latger. The work situation might change. Who you have in the now is what it is all about. Sunday is what this panel is about at the minute.”
Being in the All-Ireland final was great, he insisted. It was where all the players wanted to be. Getting there was one thing. Getting the job done was the next thing.
“We can’t lose focus on that,” he insisted. “Being in the final is great for camogie in Kilkenny, but we must finish the job properly. Camogie only generate hype really when it gets to the knock-out stages. The hype is there and it is good for the game, but we can’t buy into that.
“The girls are looking forward to what will be a huge challenge against Galway. Both teams came from the same group. We got the upper-hand on them in the first round of the championship, but that was three months ago. Both teams have moved on a lot from that, so that is no real pointer.”
In the semi-final, he recalled, Kilkenny had a tough game against Cork. Galway weren’t tested as severly against Cork, but they got the job done well.
The Kilkenny girls were ready, he insisted, and they were up for the challenge. They were looking forward to it, and the sooner the final comes the better. The players won’t have a run out in Croke Park before the final, but Niall didn’t see that as a problem.
“We are keeping things simple,” he explained. “You can over analyse things sometimes. They know the big prize that is in front of them. It they can win it could inspire another generation of Kilkenny camogie winners. The talk of the Downey and Farrell sisters who have been on the team down the years will be added to.
“This is not about the past or future. It is all about what is happening now. We try not to talk about history and so on. We are dealing in the present. Look at all the talk before the Dublin/Kerry football All-Ireland semi-final? A lot of the pre-match talk was about the history of the counties in big games.
“The match took on a life of its own and was like nothing ever before. This final will have a life of its own and it will be influenced by nothing but the participants.”
The season so far?
Niall and fellow coach, Graham Dillon, who have been involved in Third Level camogie with the Ashbourne and Purcells Cups teams, joined Kilkenny in January. They worked with the senior and intermediate teams during the League and more or less observed.
“We got to the knock-out stages in the League, but we were disappointed when we were beaten,” Niall said when he looked back. “After that we focussed on the Leinster championship and took each game as it came. Every game has been tough.”
There has only been a puck of the ball between the teams, against Offaly, Wexford, Galway and Clare. Then it was a one point game against Cork.
“We have progressed and learned in each game,” he felt. “Hopefully we have learned enough and progressed enough to do the business on Sunday. That one point game against Cork took a lot of character to win. We got a bad start.
“We suffered two sucker punches early. The girls recovered and kept working, which is what they have been doing all season. We spoke at half-time about keeping the high work rate going. The girls pulled it out. The sub helped big time too, but it was the girls who did it.
“Everything was outside our control on the sideline, just like it will be on Sunday. We trust the girls and let them at it, and they haven’t let us down yet.”