Katie Power tried hard not to allow previous memories of Croke Park edge into her focus last Sunday morning, as she and her Piltown team-mates travelled on the bus up to HQ for the AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club Camogie Final.
Klkenny’s Katie Power hoping to continue club success with county
Power has won five underage All-Irelands with Kilkenny but when it comes to Jones’ Road, on the biggest day of all, she has known only defeat.
Three senior All-Ireland Final losses to Cork and Galway in 2009, 2013 and 2014 stung badly and the two-time All-Star was adamant that it would be different this time.
“You’d be trying not to think of the defeats in the lead-up to it but there was a huge sense of determination within myself that there was no way we were going to come out without anything.
“We came up under the radar and nobody outside of Piltown expected us to win the game. As a team we had a huge sense of determination but personally, there was no way I was coming out of Croke Park as a loser again. I wanted to be an All-Ireland champion with my club.”
The 23-year-old has been a vital leader throughout the campaign and always had the stamp of quality despite her youth.
As expected, she was very prominent as Piltown settled really well to go into a five-point lead in the first half and dominated most of the game.
“There was no pressure on us. There was nothing being talked of us. In the papers and the camogie website and YouTube, it was all about Lismore and the two-in-a-row and that suited us down to the ground. There was no pressure.
“After the semi-final we were delighted to win but we were disappointed with the performance we gave. We knew if we gave that performance in Croke Park there wasn’t going to be a chance we’d win the game.
“So we tried to concentrate on the simple things – to get a performance out of ourselves. I knew that we would win if we performed to what we were capable of. So we were very relaxed coming up and we had the craic. I think the first half was the best we played all day. There was huge hunger and the amount of ball we turned over was incredible as well.”
The attention to detail prior to the game was evident in the number of blocks they made. It was a key focus in the build-up, with the message being that if every player produced one block, they would be hard to beat.
A block started the move for the goal from former Ireland U18 rugby international, Chloe Blackmore while another prevented a definite point. In a game where a point was the margin, these were massive moments.
It was a relief when the final whistle went, as Lismore, led by an incredible Gráinne Kenneally effort, launched a late desperate rally.
Now Power had good memories and the best were yet to come.
Around 250 Piltown people gathered at Langton’s for the post-match banquet. The convoy left Kilkenny around 8.30pm and got a Garda escort back to Piltown. The club had won a few junior hurling county titles when she was young and the tradition had always been to light a bonfire to greet the victors home. The bonfire was set for them this Sunday.
“We’ve never experienced anything like that before. It was amazing to see your family and friends – the whole parish. There were people you hadn’t seen in years out there. What we experienced on Sunday, Sunday evening and Sunday night is something I will never forget for the rest of my life. It was just the best day ever.”
With an average age of 19, the squad should continue to improve and power is relishing a crack at senior level; making an impact in the next couple of years.
Her focus is slowly returning to county fare and the Irish Daily Star National League. The new manager, Fintan Deegan has been very accommodating throughout the club campaign and she will return to the fold in a fortnight.
That means she’ll miss the Sunday’s opening game in the defence of their Division 1 title against old rivals, the All-Ireland champions Cork. She has been in close contact with the rest of the panel though and the feedback from training has been very positive.
“We want to win every game and we want to do as well as we can in every competition but every county wants to win the All-Ireland. You don’t set out to win anything else but that trophy. Everything after that is an added-in bonus. Every county has their eyes set on the O’Duffy, not just us. Obviously we’re hurting a good lot after the last two years.
“The girls are gonna’ want to lay down a marker for themselves as much as anything. There’s a huge fight for places. But anytime Kilkenny and Cork play it’s a big occasion for both teams and sparks will fly. It would be nice for us to pick up two points but I know it’s just as important for Cork too so it should be a good contest.”