By Sarah Stanley
It has been an exciting time in the Limerick Camogie camp over the last few weeks, having secured third place in Group 1 of the Senior Championship, they qualified for a place in the Quarter-Finals of the Championship for the very first time.
Having reached the latter stages, their eyes now turn to another prize, with further unchartered territory of a Semi-Final spot lurking on the horizon.
For Tipperary, they already know the feeling of winning a Quarter-Final and going that one step further, but Limerick are unknown to this and will soak in the occasion when they land in Thurles on Saturday.
When asked to sum up the feeling and excitement, ever-reliable defender Marian Quaid explains: “We have had the best year in a long time this year. We have been knocking on the door to get out of the group stages for the past few years, so we are absolutely delighted to be there.”
While it has been a long time coming, the team are determined to make the most of the experience and “have kept everything more or less the same” in training in the days leading up to the big occasion.
“We don't want to make too big of a deal out of it either. Our training at this stage in the year is usually light and snappy and the management don't run us too hard or anything so that's good.”
Despite being considered neighbours, the two teams are not all that familiar with each other on the field, having avoided each other in the League and Championship groupings in recent years. Clashes at provincial level however, have provided some guidance on the opposition.
“We haven't actually played Tipp in a Championship match in a few years anyway. We have met in the Munster Semi-Final for the last couple of years and it has gone both ways on those occasions. We have also played them in a few challenges this year with both teams not at full strength, but they are a very strong team we know that.”
Regardless of not knowing their opponents’ game inside out, Quaid remains optimistic that it won’t affect the outcome too much.
“We are going into this game as positive as we can be. If we can perform, we can do ourselves justice.”
In order to have a successful team on the field, a supportive team is needed behind the scenes as is the case with the Limerick management that is currently in place that steered this group to the Quarter-Final stages.
“The management team are huge. Ciarán Carey has just come in and he has been doing a lot with us. You can tell from his experience in the dressing room before a match he knows exactly how to calm you down.
“Even when the Kilkenny match didn't go the way we wanted, they didn’t dwell on it either which is great for us. We are going to learn from it and take what we can and build on it.”
While the Limerick Senior team haven’t reached the latter stages of national competitions, there has been some success for this team in recent years at provincial level, none more so than the amazing victory over Cork in the Munster final just a few years ago.
“That was definitely my biggest achievement so far, when we beat Cork in the Munster Final in 2017. Being on the pitch that day was huge. We were absolutely delighted.”
The girls in green will hope to repeat a feeling like that when the two teams face off on Saturday. After all, this is what these players have trained and committed for. It is why they train in cold winter nights and give up their freedom in the warm summer evenings.
For many players, their passion for the game was fuelled by receiving support, that is why our #GoTogether campaign is one that goes hand in hand for our players. It is how it started for them, with support of family and loved ones.
“I was four when I started playing Camogie with my dad and then I started playing with the club from under six. My dad has huge interest in it, he is definitely the one got me started. He loves it but I do have two brothers now, Gerry is two years younger than me and Mikey is 13 so the three of us are always pucking about at home together.”
Limerick are in high spirits and will be rearing to go once the sliotar is thrown in on Saturday. Despite being new to the occasion, they are not new to the game of Camogie, so confidence is at an all-time high prior to the weekend’s action.
“There are a few nerves, but we are confident. We know it is going to take a big performance to beat a team like Tipperary, but we are confident in ourselves and that is something that we have been lacking in the past few years.
“I think this is one year we have finally started to believe in ourselves. Now that we have made it to the Quarter-Final it is time for us to really show we can do it so we are confident going into this match.”