SARSFIELDS PLAYER LAURA Ward believes the integration of the Camogie Association with the GAA would be a major benefit in securing appropriate pitches for championship games.
Sarsfields player Laura Ward.
Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE
Ward will line out for the Galway club in next Sunday’s AIB All-Ireland senior final against Oulart-the-Ballagh of Wexford in Croke Park.
They will be playing in the best stadium in the country this weekend but Ward has plenty past experience of uncertainty surrounding the staging of their fixtures.
“It’d be absolutely unbelievable to have everything under the one umbrella, mostly for pitches. Camogie seems to struggle to get pitches. At least if we have full power to get into pitches, you can’t be kicked out at the last minute, like many teams have been.
Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE
“I remember for our All-Ireland semi-final a few years ago against Thomastown, we were kicked out literally an hour before the game and sent down to a pitch with no white lines, no flags, the grass wasn’t cut.
“We walked the pitch beforehand. I think it was the groundsman who said the pitch wasn’t playable. The pitch was 100% playable. We walked it and it was grand. It was a typical thing against camogie.
“Them things, hopefully when everything is under the one umbrella nothing like that can happen.”
A venue issue was in the spotlight again for the recent All-Ireland semi-final when Sarsfields defeated Slaughtneil.
The original venue of Kingspan Breffni in Cavan was deemed unplayable and with adverse weather conditions around the country, both teams had to journey to the south-east to play the game in Gorey in Wexford.
“It was very important for us to put all that aside and concentrate on the task in hand,” said Ward.
“It was up to management to sort out the rest and be in contact with the Camogie (Association) and sort out where we were going. We just tried to enjoy the Saturday and get ready for the game again on Sunday.
“Out of all the games I’ve ever played in it would have to be the worst conditions ever. The ball was landing and you could see the puddles splashing. You can learn a lot from a game like that, from a dogged game, especially with extra-time.”
A dejected Laura Ward after Sarsfields lost the All-Ireland club final to Oulart-the-Ballagh.
Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Sarsfields won this championship in March 2020 before losing on 18 December, the long-delayed 2021 final at the hands of Oulart-the-Ballagh.
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They renew acquaintances with their Wexford opponents, just under three months later to add a surreal twist to Sunday’s showdown.
“It definitely is strange. It feels like déjà vu, especially when they’re so close together. We were just so blessed that last year’s All-Ireland series was played. We fought so hard to get it played, Sarsfields and Oulart as well.
“After that final before Christmas, we all would have felt very disheartened coming off the pitch. If that doesn’t drive any player on, I don’t know what would. If you want to win, you want to mark the best, you want to play the best and you want to beat the best so I suppose that’s enough of a drive in itself.
“It wasn’t our A-game at all. They had their work done on us, there was that four or five-minute spell in the first half where they went to town on us and that killed us. They do that in a lot of their games. Going out there the next day, all you want to do is win the first ball and hope every other ball will bounce into your hand or bounce the right way for you.”
Comedian Michael Fry is our special guest on this week’s episode of The Front Row, in partnership with Guinness. Joining host Seán Burke, Eimear Considine and Murray Kinsella, he chats about his family’s rugby background and his short-lived playing days, before using his musical ear to rank the anthems of each Guinness Six Nations team. Click here to subscribe or listen below: