Brendan Graham caught up with Aoife Bugler and Sinéad Wylde, two of the Dublin stars preparing themselves for Sunday and who both spent a significant part of the year on the sidelines as a result of bad injuries.
The big day is getting closer and closer how are you both feeling?
AB: “Naturally, as the day nears closer, there’s a huge amount of excitement in the camp for Sunday. It’s where we set our goals towards at the beginning of the year and it’s a tremendous honour to get an opportunity to play in an All-Ireland Final, so I really am looking forward to it and relishing every minute of it.”
SW: “The excitement is kicking in. At this stage we're just focusing on fine tuning ourselves so that we can perform to our best on Sunday and hopefully get over the line against Kerry. We're always saying within the team that we can only control the 'controllables' and that's especially relevant this week as we build up to our biggest game of the year. From what we're eating to the amount of sleep we get, every detail is important, so important.”
How tough was the loss last year and what is it that this group have that has contributed to getting back to the biggest stage of all again?
AB: “Losing last September in Croke Park is a feeling that I will never forget but sport can be cruel and unfortunately losing is part and parcel of the game. I think the aftermath of that game really cemented our team bond and I think that has carried forward right the way through this year. Of course, commitment, determination and motivation are huge factors in getting us to where we are now but I think it’s more than just that. As a team, we each contribute something different and unique and that contributes to making this team even more special. We constantly challenge ourselves and each other on the pitch and we’re not willing to settle for anything less than our best.”
SW: “Losing to Westmeath was tough to take but it's said that you either win or you learn and I feel we've learnt an awful lot from last year’s final. For most of us it was our first time playing in Croke Park and I felt like we got a bit overwhelmed and caught up in the occasion. This year, having experienced it all before we can now just focus on the match itself and delivering a strong team performance.”
“It wasn't easy to get going again after coming so close last year but we were determined to make it back to Croker and give it another shot. It's a real credit to everyone on the team, both players and management, for the commitment and dedication that has made that ambition a reality. We've come back even stronger and there’s a great sense of comradery amongst the team as we have been together through both the highs and lows. The belief within the panel is incredible and has played a pivotal role in getting us to this final hurdle.”
You are both only recently back in the thick of the action having been sidelined for quite a few months in the early parts of the season with bad injuries. What is it for both of you that kept you going on your road to recovery?
AB: “Yes, injuries are unfortunately an element of the game and of course, they’re a huge blow to any player. Personally, I think trying to remain as positive as possible throughout it all is crucially important. No journey is going to be straightforward, but you have to take the good with the bad and try keeping a positive mindset on it all. I am fortunate in that I have an incredible support network of family, friends and of course the girls themselves, who have helped me every step of the way. There have been girls who have gone through similar injuries, who were always willing to offer their help in any way that they could and that hugely helped me in realising that I wasn’t on my own.”
SW: “It was a tough few months not being able to play but the thoughts of winning an All-Ireland is what motivated me through the hours of rehab and watching from the sidelines. I picked up an injury playing football for Cuala just three days before a knockout game against Galway with the Minor Camogie team. I had never suffered a serious injury before so it was difficult to come to terms with. I was devastated and even considered playing anyway but that was quickly overruled by the doctor. I was also playing with the Dublin Minor football team at the time and was injured for the majority of the Championship. Despite attending all the training and still being involved with the team it was hugely challenging both mentally and physically, to be down in the gym alone doing rehab while everyone else was on the pitch. I'd always go along hoping someone else would have a niggle or be injured so I'd have some company!
“Due to my injury, commitments to minor teams and the leaving cert I was only able to join back fully in early July. As I hadn't played in months, I found it difficult and frustrating in the beginning. The training was quite high tempo and it took me a while to get back up to speed. It's only in the last few weeks that I'm back in full swing and able to compete for a place again on the team”
Finally, sum up what it would mean to you both to win on Sunday and become an All–Ireland Champion?
AB: “To be honest, I don’t know if there are any words to describe what it would mean to me to win on Sunday. From a sporting perspective, winning an All-Ireland medal is the ultimate dream and it’s what every single sportsperson is vying to do – to get their hands on that elusive medal and I do realise how fortunate I am to be in a position to challenge for that medal.
“However, from a personal level, it would also mean a huge amount to me. As I have previously said, my family have been and continue to be a massive support network to me and they have all helped me in their own individual ways to get to where I am now. For that reason, it would be extra special to win on Sunday for them – my family – as a means of thanking them for everything they have done for me since the day I first picked up a hurl.”
SW: “It would be just amazing to win on Sunday and last year’s setback would make it even more special. The team has put in a huge effort over the last few years and an All-Ireland medal is the best reward we could possibly get. We've been training hard all year and can’t wait to be back playing in Croke Park. Roll on Sunday!”
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Championships Finals
Sunday September 9th
Cork v Kilkenny
Referee: Eamon Cassidy (Derry)
Cork v Down
Referee: John Dermody (Westmeath)
Premier Junior Final
Dublin v Kerry
Referee: Alan Doheny (Laois)
Ticket Prices & Information
Adults: €30 on matchday
€25 if purchased in advance of matchday
Students/Senior Citizens: Purchase Adult Ticket – Concessions available only on matchday with valid ID (€10 rebate on gate)
Under 18: €5
Tickets can be purchased in advance from:
– Selected Centra/SuperValu outlets nationwide
– From outside the ground on matchday.