Derry will be lining out without their captain, Sinéad Cassidy as they take on Kilkenny in the Liberty Insurance senior camogie championship in Clara on Saturday afternoon.Cassidy isn’t injured though. Instead, she is getting married at the chapel in Ballerin. She will catch up with some of her team-mates at the reception in Tullyglass House, Ballymena later on though and hopes they will be telling her about their greatest ever victory.
You wonder how she has managed to do it all. On July 4, she graduated as a doctor and on July 31 she begins working life in Belfast City Hospital. Throw in a wedding and camogie in there and it’s tempting to dub the 25-year-old Superwoman.
One thing that has been put on the back burner is the honeymoon. Maldives in October is the plan. By then, Cassidy will be well established at work. It’s going to be difficult, as she is facing into two years of shift work before deciding on her speciality (it’s looking like being a GP or going into paediatrics).
There is no question of her calling time on the inter-county game though. Not a chance actually.
“The appeal is always there. You could have so many excuses there not to play but as soon as the season starts you just do it and it becomes second nature.
“I would have found it more difficult in my fourth and final year of college to play but I always found camogie as the thing that was a release for me. I enjoyed getting to training as it took my mind off everything.
“I’m sure it’ll be the same in working life, I’ll need a bit of a break. I might not be able to commit just as much with shifts over the first couple of years but I’m definitely not closing the door on inter-county camogie.”
She has enjoyed every bit of her “at least nine years” on the senior panel.
“When I started we had a very strong underage team and I think that’s what kept the interest there in the county. At U14 and U16 level, we were winning the Ulster championship every year I was playing. Progressing to the All-Ireland series, we just never got on a par with the southern teams.
“But now we’ve progressed with the seniors. In 2007 we won the junior All-Ireland. We won the intermediate All-Ireland a couple of years ago and now progressing to senior, it’s great to see.”
With a sponsor in H&A Mechanical Services that has invested in the team and thus improved the level of preparation, there is a real appeal to play for Derry now.
“We see that with a lot of the young girls. Last year we competed well in the National League but we just didn’t perform well in championship whereas this year it was the opposite. The championship was our strongest competition and hopefully we’ll build on that next year. Hopefully we’ll be competing in a semi-final with any luck.
They knew to expect a step-up in speed but still weren’t ready for it.
“You think about that but until you play, you don’t realise it. Championship pace is another step up again and we weren’t prepared for that last year but we knew what to expect this year. The win against Tipperary was our first in 59 years at senior I think. After that the spirits were so high.
“We had high hopes going into (the game against Offaly) but it just didn’t go our way. But there’s a clear progression there and hopefully next year we’ll be there or thereabouts.”
The next test – the one Cassidy has to miss out on – is the most difficult to date, although there is much to take from how competitive they have been this summer. Kilkenny are the league champions though, last year’s All-Ireland finalists. Another level.
“When we saw the fixtures at the start it was clear that our first three games were the ones we had to win and we had hoped we would already be qualified going into the Kilkenny game but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. Playing the likes of Kilkenny is what you aspire to and hopefully the girls can play their best and cause a bit of an upset.”