It’s hard to believe that we have reached this stage of the Liberty Insurance Senior Camogie championship. It’s hard to believe that only three hours of senior camogie remain in 2013- two semi finals and a final. What is not hard to believe however, are the teams that have made the final four. Kilkenny take on Cork in the first game at 2pm. Cork- Kingpins of all things GAA for decades, cruised into a semi final position after the round robin series. They will be happy to advertise that they are the current League Champions. They have been quietly training away, keeping a low profile and planning their game for Semple Stadium and their opponents Kilkenny. The Kilkenny ladies are flying the black and amber flag proudly and are the last hope of bringing All Ireland Senior Silverware back to the marble city this year. Unusually for the cats, they exited many of the hurling championships early this year so all eyes, hopes and expectations will be on the Senior Camogie Team.
Co-incidentally Galway and Wexford, who play each other in the second game at 4pm, have both come through a quarter final.Galway will be confident after a convincing win over Tipperary in Portlaoise. Although Tipperary started with plenty of fire in their bellies, inevitably the Tribeswomen came to the fore with their strong brand of camogie. They will also be encouraged by the fact that they have beaten Wexford in the round robin game earlier in the Championship.
I have to take my hat off to Offaly in the All Ireland quarter final versus Wexford. I don’t think I’ve seen a team make such a drastic improvement in four years. They played to their potential and far beyond in that game. They may have counted themselves unlucky not to pull through to a semi final for a second consecutive year.
Finally, All Ireland Champions, Wexford. It is hard to imagine that the All Ireland Champions will go into this game as underdogs but that is the fact of the matter. Given their under par performance in the quarter final it is probably a fair judgement. Every team has an off day. What matters is their next performance. Wexford will relish that challenge. They know how to win on good days and bad.
Given that each team have potentially got two hours of camogie left to win the All Ireland, the quote ‘it’s now or never’ comes to mind. For these Camogie Superpowers, it really is now or never. Now is the time for the big performances from big players.
I don’t like to use the words ‘big players’ too flippantly. I do believe that all 15 players on the field and players that are introduced have a specific job description. It may be man marking or goal scoring, the worker, the free taker or the organiser. Every player’s job is crucial to the team’s victory. That said, some players just have the X Factor when it comes to high pressure games. Leaders are special; they have the innate ability to rise to the occasion-every time. Past and present sportspeople that you could put your money on- Brian O Driscoll, Colm Cooper, Roy Keane, Ussain Bolt, Katie Taylor. More recently, Rob Heffernan who is the second man to ever win a world championship for Ireland.
There are lots of those players in each of these counties too who will step up this Saturday-Therese Maher, Anne Dalton, Anna Geary, Kate Kelly, whom I had the pleasure of playing Wexford camogie with for 21 years.Semple Stadium is a big stadium made for big performances. Let’s see who can make it to the greatest Stadium of them all on September 15th.
Claire O'Connor writes a Liberty Insurance Championship Diary for camogie.ie Follow Claire on twitter @clairnichon