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“It’s where you start your journey, it’s where you end your journey. It’s a privilege to play in Croke Park with your club”

Mon 18th Dec

Daragh Ó Conchúir


By Daragh Ó Conchúir, at Croke Park
Lucinda Gahan is a role model for many. While there are thankfully far more examples of motherhood not having to end a woman’s sporting career, even at the highest level, another one will never go astray.

That Gahan (pictured above left with Caoimhe Carroll) gave birth to Elijah only seven months ago also speaks to her dedication, particularly given how prominent she was for the 19 minutes she was on the pitch.

Take into account that she broke her hand after returning and Kilkenny’s 2020 All-Ireland-winning captain really is a monument to good conditioning and bloody mindedness.

Gahan was probably thinking about all that as her eyes welled up, having been greeted with countless hugs and collected her god-daughter and niece Aria on the way down from the Hogan Stand steps from which she had once received the O’Duffy Cup, after Jenny Clifford had been presented on this occasion with the O’Carroll Cup.

She is a role model to her niece too, already a promising player with Mullinavat. Certainly, Aria must have glowed with pride as her aunt won so much possession, and in particular, the moment right on the hour, when Gahan showed phenomenal strength to win possession and draw a foul for a free that was slotted brilliantly by the outstanding Aoife Prendergast – Kilkenny’s last All-Ireland-winning skipper in 2022 – felt huge, as the margin opened to three.

The ‘Boro had actually fallen behind in the first half when Siobhán McGrath goaled in the 25th minute against the run of play but points from Asha McHardy and Orla Hanrick gave them a 0-10 to 1-6 half-time lead that was the least they deserved.

Sarsfields, chasing a third consecutive triumph, were much improved after the restart and looked to be on their way as McGrath, Shannon Corcoran and Sarah Spellman hit four of the next five points.

But with Prendergast and Amy Clifford excelling, Dicksboro found another level to come out on top as worthy victors from a belting contest, their whopping tally of 18 points too much for Sarsfields, who finished with 1-11.

“I’m just ecstatic,” said an exultant Gahan. “It’s amazing. They’re just an amazing bunch of girls. We fought to the end. It was such a hard game and they’re a really tough team but it’s just amazing to bring this cup home back to Dicksboro.

“I was always coming back but then I broke my hand in a challenge match so it put me out for a while and I thought I was definitely gone. Then Donal persuaded me to come back running. Then I got a hurl in my hand and felt fine and I was back in it then!

“I was just gonna give it my best when I came on. It’s such a hard team to get on and it makes everyone so competitive. I was just so grateful to have the chance to get on there today and give it my all.

“We have such a massive panel. When I joined four or five years ago, we didn’t have that many girls. Every year we gained experience. We’ve matured. We’ve learned from our losses and wins. We’ve such a great management team. They’ve put in great commitment all year and this is just unbelievable.”

Like Gahan, Prendergast has experienced the high of collecting the O’Duffy Cup in the black and amber, but club is different.

“Oh yeah,” agreed Prendergast. “It’s where you start your journey, it’s where you end your journey. It’s a privilege to play in Croke Park with your club. A great honour. Unbelievable.

“It was a huge battle. One to fifteen, subs coming on. It took a huge push. Sarsfields are an incredible team. Credit to them. We sat at home sitting on the couch in front of the fire watching them last year. And we were inspired to be where they were. We looked up to them last year. We drove it on today. We brought huge hunger, huge battle and that’s what took us over the line. It took everything to get over the line today.”

And though she scored nine points and was deservedly named player of the match, it was easy to agree with the impeccable ball striker when she talked about the balance of the team. There were eight individual scorers, while the defence was outstanding also, either in marking or rampaging out of defence to launch attacks with blistering pace.

“It’s a credit to all the girls out the field to give you the chances to score. It’s a great privilege to get to stand over them frees and put them over for such an incredible bunch of girls.

“We’re not a team of individuals. I’m after getting this award (player of the match). Everyone on this team could have got it. We stand up. Day-in, day-out. I know if I have a terrible game, someone else is going to stand up and that’s what we’re all about.

“It’s gonna be a great Christmas. I’ll just tell my friends and family, I don’t want anything for Christmas. I have the best Christmas present I could get.”


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