Two months after being dethroned, Galway champions prepare for All-Ireland semi-final

SARSFIELDS CAMOGIE STAR Maria Cooney says her side are grateful to have another attempt at regaining the senior All-Ireland title.

Sarsfields star Maria Cooney.

Source: Sportsfile

The Galway champions were made to wait for their maiden crown, needing three attempts before finally emerging as winners at the end of the 2019 campaign after a tough battle against Slaughtneil.

But they were outgunned by Wexford’s Oulart-The-Ballagh in the delayed 2020 decider which only took place in December. The completion of the championship was initially expected to be scrapped due to Covid-19, but after a lengthy battle, a suitable window was found in the winter to finish out the series.

It didn’t result in back-to-back success for Sarsfields, but as the 2021 provincial series quickly came into view, they didn’t have to spend long suffering with their wounds.

“It was really strange that there was such a quick turnover and timeline,” Cooney begins as Sarsfields prepare for an All-Ireland semi-final against their old rivals Slaughtneil on Saturday.

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“But I suppose the first thing was that we were so thankful that last year’s one did go ahead. It’s such a championship and for it not to have been played would have been an awful pity.

“In a way, it was good that we didn’t have a huge amount of time to dwell on things and overthink things. We just had to put it aside and move on and hopefully learn from our mistakes.

“We didn’t get out of Galway in 2019 and the opportunity to even get there happen so seldom and I suppose Galway is a really tough championship. There’s a couple of teams there that are so close, so the couple of years we did get out, I suppose it was disappointing that we obviously had lost the two and then to not get out of Galway and we did overcome Slaughtneil to win our first one, it was great.

“Losing to Oulart-The-Ballagh was tough but again, any of the four teams that get to the All-Ireland semi-finals has to work really hard. Every team wants to win so I suppose they are huge challenges and any team you come up against is really good.”

There are several important family ties in the Sarsfields camp that have all achieved All-Ireland glory at club and county level.

The McGrath clan is probably the most significant one, beginning with the Sarsfields camogie manager Michael. Affectionately known as ‘Hopper,’ he has four daughters on the team [Clodagh, Niamh, Orlaith, and Siobhán].

The Cooneys are also Sarsfields royalty. Maria plays for the camogie team while her brother is star Galway hurler Joseph. They’re both children of Galway legend Joe, who enjoyed Liam McCarthy success with ‘Hopper’ McGrath.

“When you look at the families from when the lads won the club All-Irelands, the daughters are coming together. So, you have the McGraths and the Kennys and we’re all close in age.

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“It is a huge thing, there is a lot of family ties and we’re lucky that we all came around the same time so there’s a good crop of us there together.

“We are a very small club, there’s not too many people around and we’re all the one so it does make it that little bit more special. Everyone has such an interest and everyone is so involved.”

Maria Cooney pictured ahead of one of #TheToughest showdowns of the year, as Sarsfields (Galway) take on Slaughtneil (Derry) in the AIB Senior Camogie Club All-Ireland Championship semi-final tomorrow at 2pm at Kingspan Beffni Park, Cavan.

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