by Sarah Stanley
Entering a Championship season with a Division 1 League title under the belt was a relatively new feeling for the Galway Senior team. After victory over the holders Kilkenny back in March, this year’s league champions also staked a claim to be there or there about for the major honours in September.
Confidence is high, the energy is electric and the determination to succeed certainly hasn’t died down since that excellent day in Croke Park. Now is as good a time as any to be a Galway Camogie player. One player who can testify to that is center forward, Caitríona Cormican.
The Cappataggle stalwart was part of the All-Ireland winning team back in 2013, so experience is a telling sign in her performances in the maroon jersey.
“We are in a good spot at the minute” she explains. “We have had a good year so far. We won the league, which was excellent. It was a long time ago now, but it definitely brought confidence to the panel and we have driven on and we are really looking forward to Waterford on Saturday.”
The latter stages require the best possible performances and nerves need to be put on the back foot for 60 minutes. Having experienced the same stage last year, the Galway players know what is at stake this weekend.
“We are really looking forward to Saturday, it is what we have trained for. The knockout stages of the Championship is where you want to be so there is a real buzz around training. Everyone is really looking forward to Saturday and hopefully we can put in a good performance.”
One of Cathal Murray’s most consistent performers, Cormican returned to the Senior panel last year, after spending the year previous on the Intermediate panel. As a reward for her fantastic performances, she was voted by the public as the Galway Daily Player of the Year however she still feels that there is more to come from her own personal performances.
“It was my first year with the seniors for a couple of years, so it was a nice thing to win, but I think there is still more in the tank alright. You have to aim to improve after each game and build on that so hopefully there is more to come.”
Victory in this stage 12 months ago came against the sky-blue outfit of Dublin, however progress was to go no further as Kilkenny ousted the Tribeswomen from the Championship in the Semi-Final stages.
“It was hard to pick the spirits up after last year's Semi-Final. It is heartbreaking anytime you get knocked out of the Championship, it is the whole year over. You have trained so hard to get to that position and so much sacrifice has gone in. You are no longer meeting the girls three or four times a week, so it is very strange. We have such a good setup up, so everybody is motivated to get back on track and prepared well for this season.”
Cormican is no stranger to hard work and commitment, she has done it all her life through both sports and education. Many years of her life were spent juggling an intercounty career and studying to be a doctor.
"I was six years in college and then you do your intern year, where you decide what path you want to go down. Through college I loved my GP placement and I really thought that would suit me, so I applied for that and was delighted to get the scheme in Galway. I started out on a four-year training program, split into two parts with the different jobs appropriate for a GP. One part was in Mayo so travelling back for training in Galway was difficult however I did love it down there. My last year training was in Galway city so I fully qualified in April and now I am working as a GP in Oranmore."
Instead of being stressed with both playing and studying the exercise became an important outlet for her during the tough times.
“It is not easy, and you do have to make sacrifices. Maybe you won't be able to go on all the nights out with your friends and you might miss birthday parties and weddings and stuff like that but for me it was worth it. The joy I get from playing sport. It is very important to get exercising and have something aside from the studies because it can be quite intense and competitive so to have sport with it is excellent and you can meet a different group of friends and you can enjoy yourself.”
If both studying and playing Camogie wasn’t enough to fit onto one plate, the county star juggled a third commitment in 2018 by being a dual player and lining out for the county football panel also.
“It was tough, but I did really enjoy it, but the summer was intense. You could be just getting over a win or a defeat and you have to scrap it and be ready for the next match the following weekend, so it was intense. Maybe I was prone to picking up little niggles and stuff last summer, so I think that was the deciding factor in only picking one sport this year. I am happy now and things are going really well.”
Six years on from that famous All-Ireland winning triumph Cormican can see some similarities between the Galway team of today and the team of 2013, however it can be difficult to compare them in every aspect.
“There are similarities in terms of the work ethos and the teamwork and everything like that and we would have a good few players from that team still playing. They are real leaders in our team this year and they bring on the young players around them, but it is a totally different team. I do think we are bringing some of the hallmarks of that winning team with us.”
Another team with a lot of commitment to the Galway cause is the manager Cathal Murray and his management team, who have taken charge of both the Senior and Intermediate county teams. Their influence on the players has been a driving factor in the Senior team making consecutive Quarter-Final appearances.
“There is a great set-up in the management team. Every player is very comfortable to be able to approach the management and it is great they know us so well and they can approach us all too. No player is the same, so the key is approaching players differently and I think that is their understanding of us as players, so it is great.”
The maroon outfit are being looked at by many as the ones who could dislodge the Rebels and the Cats from a fourth consecutive final appearance against each other, but if they are to achieve this, they will need to respect this Waterford side featuring stars like Beth Carton and Lorraine Bray.
It will be no easy task, but Championship never is.