By Daragh Ó Conchúir, at UPMC Nowlan Park
Beth Carton said she was speechless but thankfully, she wasn’t really. Anyway, she had done her talking on the pitch with an eight-point contribution as Waterford ended a 78-year wait with a 1-12 to 1-11 victory over Tipperary to reach the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland senior camogie final.
She was particularly tickled though that it was Mairead Power scored the goal that turned the tie in the 25th minute, coming five minutes after Cáit Devane’s major had put Tipperary seven points clear.
Power is a defender by trade but had been deployed further forward to haunt Karen Kennedy wherever she ventured. Until Kennedy was pushed forward late on, it worked a treat.
Had she ever seen Power score a goal before?
“I certainly haven’t!” said a beaming Carton. “I wouldn’t say she remembers herself to be honest. We were getting on to her all week about her playing in the forwards but Mairead can play anywhere. Phenomenal athlete and player. She can do anything she wants to be honest.”
Power was one of a slew of inspirational performers in white and blue, Vikki Faulkner, Lorraine Bray, Orla Hickey and Mairead O’Brien just four others that come to mind.
Carton is the key to the team though and her two points in the second half to bring her tally from play to four, after Tipp had gone two clear twice early after the restart, were critical.
“I’m still speechless a bit. Hard to put into words what that means to that group in there and also to Waterford I suppose. We don’t get many days out as Waterford supporters so hopefully now, two weeks’ time, we can give people a good day out.
“The support is what gets you over the line at the end. You could see the last ten minutes were the longest ever. You need everyone. The crowd out there and all week has been phenomenal.
“People let us do what we needed to do during the week as well, which was a big thing. Just to have that support there needs everything to that group inside.
“They hammered us in the Munster (semi-final). We could easily have put the heads down after that but we knew what the group could do. Girls had jobs there, jobs that impacted their game a lot but they did it, no problem, no questions asked. Vikki Faulkner, Mairead Power were phenomenal there today. Lorraine Bray.
“It’s just a group effort and when you’ve confidence in the person behind you anything can happen and that’s what happened today.
“We knew they’d come with everything. I suppose there was a bit of nerves (early on), stuck to the ground. The weather out there is different. I know the last few weeks have been bad but it was very bad today.
“And it’s a big day I suppose, just giving people time, and then you know where you are and it’s just another game at the end of the day.
“We’ve nothing won yet. All-Ireland semi-final, it’s great but there’s a big thing on the line now in two weeks and these chances mightn’t come around often in your career so you have to take them. We’ll enjoy here, we’ll enjoy now but once we get back into the dressing room we’ll look forward to two weeks’ time.”
Tipp manager, Denis Kelly spoke highly of his players, who had done everything right for 20 minutes and fought back with two late points after falling three down but the heartbreak was evident.
“They died with their boots on but it was disappointing to lose by a point,” said Kelly. “We’re devastated at the minute because we had our sights set on Croke Park. It’s not happening for us so at least we have the Munster cup and have something to show for our year.
“We’ve made good progress we feel but still, on today’s performance, there’s more we can do. So we’ll go back and look at the club championship again and see can we pick up any more gems out there and add to our panel and drive it on for next year.
“When we dust ourselves down it’s been a decent year but we want more.”
Waterford boss, Seán Power has won All-Ireland with the county’s U20 and minor hurlers and that experience will be pivotal as the hype begins to build. His policy is not to pretend it isn’t happening.
“We don’t get into many All-Ireland finals in Waterford in any code so we’re gonna enjoy it,” Power revealed. “We’re gonna look forward to it. We’ve a lot of work to do.
“The next step, in terms of mountains, the next step is the biggest one. It’s the Hillery Step of Everest. But we’ve the capability of doing it. Will we do it? I don’t know. We’re gonna try do it but we’ve to do a lot of work to get to that stage.”