By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Ciara Storey is a survivor from an era when Wexford bestrode the camogie landscape with the conviction that comes from being three-in-a-row champions but the brilliant defender now admits that maybe they are at their best when written off.
Storey was a teenager when coming into the field of play as a sub in the first two All-Ireland finals of that landmark achievement from 2010 to 2012 and remains a key component of the side as new manager and clubmate, Colin Sunderland seeks to continue the incremental progress of recent years after the county had hit rock bottom.
In that period, Storey has had her own personal challenges, but the Oulart-The Ballagh stalwart – she has won three All-Ireland club medals too, the most recent in 2021 under Sunderland’s stewardship – has continued to wear the purple and gold, despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at just 26.
Now 33, Storey – daughter of All-Ireland-winning hurling captain Martin – is among the key leadership figures in the squad.
She excelled as Wexford secured a draw with All-Ireland champions Kilkenny in their opening Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2 tie despite falling ten points behind early in the second half.
And she will need to be at her best once more as Wexford welcome a high-scoring Tipperary side buoyed by following up their Munster Championship success with a 16-point defeat of Dublin to Bellefield on Saturday (4pm throw-in).
With Kilkenny travelling to Parnell Park for a rematch of what was a very tight Leinster final against the Dubs, it is a massive weekend with the top two progressing to the knockout stages.
“We were delighted to draw with the All-Ireland champions but feel we could have won it as well so (we were) disappointed too,” said Storey of her mixed feelings in the immediate aftermath of the Kilkenny match, while speaking on the Camán Caint podcast.
“There was a bit of a gap there. The frees – some of them were and some of them weren’t – set us back more. I think our discipline went a little bit better in the second half, we got a bit of an ‘ateing’ at half-time over it. So it was kind of our own fault, those ten points. We’re well able to play with the top teams so we’ll keep working hard and see how it goes for us.
“Maybe being the underdogs suit us. I don’t think a whole lot of people rate us after the last few years but we’ve been putting in a lot of work with Colin, Shane (Carley) and the lads. We’ll keep training hard and hopefully put it up to Tipperary as well.
“The League went well for us until the final (won by Waterford) but we just needed that click to come for us and thankfully it’s starting to come now.”