They say all good things come to those who wait and Colette Glennon is certainly testament to the statement’s veracity.
Approximately 23 years after first lining out in a Mullagh jersey, the Nenagh CBS primary school teacher won her first ever medal for the club.
It was a glorious day, never to be forgotten, a well of emotion overcoming the 33-year-old centre-forward.
It isn’t that she hasn’t known success. Glennon has won four All-Irelands with Galway, bagging a minor before claiming a junior in 2003, adding an intermediate title the following year when clubmate Sinead Cahalan was captain, and repeating that victory in 2009.
But this was different. This was the club. To add to it all, her husband, Tom Tierney is one of the trainers. It was just a dream come true.
It’s a cliché but the rest really is a bonus. Leading her colleagues out onto Croke Park will be surreal but she swears she hasn’t even thought about lifting the Bill Carroll Cup.
“There are a lot of girls the same age as me that aren’t playing anymore but we’re lucky there was good underage in Mullagh for a few years, with girls getting to Féile finals and winning their age groups up along” explains Glennon.
“They’re starting to mature now and are coming up senior and standing up to the mark. It’s great that I’m still around to be part of it and to play with them.
“We were knocking on the door for the last three or four years just to get a county title. 2014 was the first medal I actually ever won with the club so I knew that that was there or thereabouts and I said I’d hang around and see what we could get out of it. It would be the ultimate to get the All-Ireland medal on Sunday.
“I played with the county back in 2003 with the Galway juniors. We played a few intermediate All-Ireland finals since but they weren’t in Croke Park at the time. A few girls have played in Croke Park but we’ve a lot of young girls on our side and it’s going to be a big day for them too.
“But it’s a different story when you go there with your club. It’s a lot more personal. You’re going there with girls that are your family, your friends and you’ve hurled with them since day one.
“There’s a good buzz around the parish. The flags are starting to go up. We’re still doing our last few sessions now, trying to tidy up a few things but we’re looking forward to the big day.”
The commitment shown by many of the squad members is notable, with girls travelling from Kildare and Dublin to train. One, Ali Clarke, regularly makes the journey from Edinburgh and is likely to be introduced to the fray at some stage, having earned a reputation as a serious impact sub, not least when scoring a crucial goal off the bench in the county semi-final.
It is a fairly high-powered management team too. Her husband is joined by Nigel Murray and Eugene McEntee in the training duties. McEntee knows a thing or two about winning All-Irelands himself, having gone all the way with Portumna hurlers on four occasions, including once as captain.
Manager Packie Dervan won an All-Ireland club hurling championship with Kiltormer in 1992. He is married to Emer Hardiman, who scored a hat-trick of goals when Mullagh won their one and only club All-Ireland in 1991 – just about the time Glennon first lined out at underage level.
Another member of that history-making side, Eadaoin Murphy is a selector, along with Emer Larkin. Having constant reminders of that day inspires the current crop and they like the idea of beating Milford as an omen, given that Mullagh were the only side to beat Glen Rovers of Cork in a four-season period from 1990-1993.
No-one can say that Mullagh have had an easy run to the final, having beaten the last two All-Ireland runners-up, Killimor and Ardrahan en route to the Galway title, before accounting for three-in-a-row chasing Milford in the All-Ireland semi-final.
“There definitely is great competition in Galway. There are some very strong clubs. We got some great challenges from Killimor, Kinvara and Ardrahan during the year. Our aim this time last year was to get to the county final and if we got over the line, anything else was going to be a bonus.
“Then we had the All-Ireland champions in the semi-final. I suppose we had nothing to lose and were total underdogs going in. We gave it a lash and thank God we came out the right side of it.”
“We didn’t settle at all at the start; (there were) silly mistakes and we gave away a nice few frees. I don’t know was it nerves or what, it took us a while to get going.
“Then in the second half we went in and regrouped again. We decided we have nothing to lose at this stage, we’ll just go out and hurl away. We came out fighting and produced a good last 20 minutes but we’ll need a lot more than that the next day. We’ll have to hit the ground running to have a chance really.
“Oulart are going to be strong favourites. A lot of the girls have won All-Irelands with Wexford and they won the club All-Ireland title in 2012 so they know the story. We’re newcomers to this big day, to Croke Park, and it’s going to be a tough battle for us.”