Galway will not be weighed down by the memories of previous defeats on the biggest stage when they play Kilkenny in Sunday’s Liberty Insurance All-Ireland senior camogie final writes Daragh Ó Conchúir.
So says captain Lorraine Ryan, who instead, is of the opinion that the experience of having performed and lost at the highest level in Croke Park will actually prove beneficial to the Tribeswomen.
While Kilkenny won their last title in 1994 and haven’t appeared in a final since 2009, Galway have been in three of the last five finals before this one, as they bid to add to their sole championship garnered 17 years ago.
Ryan is completely unconcerned about the prospect of any residual scar tissue from those setbacks, instead taking the view regularly expressed by legendary hurling manager, Jimmy Barry-Murphy and Brian Cody that each final takes on a life of its own.
“Every final is different” says Ryan. “We have a similar batch of players although there are some new players too. Nearly every starting player has played in Croke Park and that will stand to us.
“All you can say about the finals we have lost is we have experience from them, and we’ve experienced hurt from them and hopefully that will drive us on the next day.
“The (last) two finals (in 2010 and 2011), we were so close. We were very unlucky not to win the two of them. They were great matches. It wasn’t that we didn’t perform. We did put in performances but we just came out the wrong end. So experience is what we’ll take from those two finals.”
There is also a lesson heeded from last year’s semi-final loss to Cork.
“We know we can’t take any match for granted. We definitely need to focus on the game because we didn’t perform against Cork and the game passed us by before we realised what was going on. So taking from that, we need to focus on the game in hand and focus on that only.”
Not that there would ever be any fear of them looking beyond Kilkenny. The Noresiders are the only team with a 100% record in the championship, a record that stretches back to an opening round victory over Galway in Athenry by two points.
“We definitely got off to a shaky start. We weren’t ourselves. But we did have (the next) weekend free before we met Wexford. I suppose Wexford in the championship was one of our most important games because once we got through that we definitely picked it up.
“Going onto Clare, going onto Derry, we progressed. Getting Tipperary in the quarter-final, we knew we needed to up it again as they were going well as well. Once we got over Tipperary the belief definitely started to roll in the team and beating Wexford in the semi-final was a great achievement as well. So we’re happy to be where we are.”
Finally accounting for Wexford in a knockout game, having been bested by the Model County’s finest in the 2010 and 2011 finals, removed a seriously tiresome and meddling monkey from their backs. Again though, Ryan is loath to read too much into it.
“Wexford’s performance wasn’t a true reflection of Wexford. I think everyone knows that. They have been unbelievable champions and not to score from play is not the Wexford that we know. So we’re definitely under no illusions about that nine-point victory. We know we’ll have to up it at least 30% from that performance if we’re to win the next day.”
That analysis is based on Kilkenny’s form, in particular, the standard of their semi-final win over league champions Cork.
“We saw bits of it when we were arriving (and on The Sunday Game). It seemed a great match and a hard game as well. The two semi-finals were very different. I’d say the pace of their game was a lot higher than ours was.
“Obviously the momentum and excitement to the end was a lot different to ours as well so you couldn’t really compare them.”
That makes Kilkenny favourites, is the message being delivered, but Galway don’t really believe that. Ryan and her band of merry women are ready to rock.