BIG GUNS FACE OFF

Donard-The Glen and Knock­ananna go head to head

Bray People - - SPORT -

THE two heavy­weights of Wick­low camogie in re­cent years have un­ques­tion­ably been the West Wick­low sides Donard-The Glen and Knock­ananna.

The two are used to fac­ing off on the big­gest day in the Wick­low club camogie cal­en­dar and have pro­duced some ti­tanic tus­sles over the years and it should be no dif­fer­ent when the slio­tar is thrown in on the Baltinglass sod this Satur­day at 4pm.

Knock­ananna are the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons and have a num­ber of dual play­ers who have al­ready tasted county foot­ball suc­cess this year but the women of Donard will be gun­ning to knock them off their pedestal.

We caught up with the two re­spec­tive man­agers; Knock­ananna’s Brian Byrne and Donard head man Caiman Kiely as well as the two team cap­tains; Áine O’Keefe of Knock­ananna and her Donard coun­ter­part Emer Mi­ley to get their thoughts ahead of the fi­nal.

Brian Byrne – Knock­ananna Man­ager:

This has been my first year over the team and I have to say the girls have been a plea­sure to train and we’re all hugely ex­ited and look­ing for­ward to the show­down on Satur­day with Donard. It will be my first county fi­nal ex­pe­ri­ence of Wick­low camogie but from the his­tory of fi­nals be­tween the two sides I’m sure it’ll be a crack­ing game with two fa­mil­iar foes go­ing all out for the win.

Donard have a very good team with a good mix of younger and more ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers and we’re well aware of the mag­ni­tude of the chal­lenge they’ll bring. They play with a lot of phys­i­cal­ity but also have very skil­ful hurlers across the pitch so we’ll have to be at a very best to turn them over.

Hav­ing said that though I think that it’s im­por­tant that most of our em­pha­sis is on our own game and how we pre­pare and per­form on the day.

If we play to our ca­pa­bil­ity it will take a very good team to stop the girls so ev­ery­one just has to con­cen­trate on win­ning their own in­di­vid­ual bat­tles and then bring that to­gether and col­lec­tively work for each other as a team.

The ap­pli­ca­tion of the girls has been first class all year. We have a lot of dual play­ers or play­ers who would have been do­ing ex­ams but to a woman their com­mit­ment has been ex­cep­tional. They’re a hugely driven and am­bi­tious bunch so I have to say as a man­ager they’ve been a dream to train.

Although it might not have been re­flected in the score line we had tough bat­tles against Carnew and Bal­li­na­cor to get in this po­si­tion but this is where we’ve aimed to be all year so I sup­pose there’s a huge an­tic­i­pa­tion and prob­a­bly a slight ner­vous­ness in the camp ahead of the match. Ev­ery­one just wants Satur­day to come around and get stuck in and play.

We have no in­juries con­cerns as of now so fin­gers crossed that con­tin­ues and I think we’re well pre­pared for hav­ing a right crack on Satur­day. If we play to our strengths we have a great chance and with a bit of luck can get over the win­ning line.

Áine O’Keefe – Knock­ananna Cap­tain:

As a player this is where you want to be and we’re all look­ing for­ward to the fi­nal. We’ve been play­ing well this year but hav­ing said that we know we’ll have to up our per­for­mance and play our best match of the year if we’re to beat Donard on Satur­day.

We’re well aware that they’re a very good team and that they will be go­ing out ex­tra hard to beat us on Satur­day be­cause we’re the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons. I’ve played in some re­ally tough, close games against them and there’s never much to sep­a­rate the teams so I’m sure Satur­day will be no dif­fer­ent.

Train­ing has been go­ing well and there’s a great team spirit within the squad which is a credit to Brian. A lot of us were also in­volved in win­ning the county foot­ball cham­pi­onships with Ti­na­hely so I think that will give those in­volved an ex­tra hunger to go out and win the camogie cham­pion- ship as well. As a team we’re all striv­ing for the same goal to win the cham­pi­onship so ab­so­lutely noth­ing will be left on the pitch on Satur­day.

We’ve played a cou­ple of tough matches to get here and also had a few prac­tice matches against Wex­ford side’s so hope­fully we’ll be well bat­tle hard­ened ahead of the game on Satur­day.

I think if we play as well as we can we’re well ca­pa­ble of win­ning so hope­fully a big crowd will turn up on Satur­day and help us bring the cup back to Knock­anna.

Caiman Kiely – Donard-The Glen Man­ager:

Firstly I have to say that it’s been a hugely en­joy­able first year in the job for me and I think that through­out the year we’ve re­ally grown and im­proved as a team.

The girls have been a joy to train and ev­ery­one has re­ally put their shoul­der to the wheel so I cer­tainly can’t fault any­one in­volved for at­ti­tude, com­mit­ment or de­sire. Whether the sun was split­ting the stones or the rain and hail was pelt­ing down we’ve trained and played with 100% com­mit­ment all year so hope­fully that will stand us in good stead come Satur­day.

We know that Knock­anna will pose a huge ob­sta­cle for us to get over on Satur­day.

They’re county cham­pi­ons for a rea­son and have some very tal­ented camogie play­ers. We played them in the group stage ear­lier in the year and although we lost by a cou­ple of points I think there were en­cour­ag­ing signs for us that day. We were miss­ing a few play­ers our­selves for that match but I think we learned a lot from that out­ing and have been on an up­ward curve since then.

Although I wasn’t over the team last year I un­der­stand how dis­ap­pointed they were to lose in the fi­nal last year and what it would mean to them to get the win on Sat- ur­day. I sup­pose there prob­a­bly is a fac­tor of re­venge see­ing that it’s the same op­po­nents. This is where we’ve been aim­ing to be all year.

At the same time though have to go out and play our nor­mal game and can’t let emo­tion get the bet­ter of us. I think that we have a lot of dif­fer­ent weapons across the pitch and have the skill and de­ter­mi­na­tion to come out the right side of the re­sult.

It will take a mon­u­men­tal ef­fort from ab­so­lutely ev­ery­one but I’m con­fi­dent that if we per­form to our ca­pa­bil­ity that we’ll get the win and bring the cup back to Donard.

It would be bril­liant if a big crowd made the trip to Baltinglass on Satur­day to cheer on the girls. They re­ally de­serve all the sup­port they can get and that bit of ex­tra sup­port can make a huge dif­fer­ence at the end of the day.

Emer Mi­ley – Donard-The Glen Cap­tain

On be­half of the team I can say that ev­ery­one in­volved ab­so­lutely can’t wait for the fi­nal. Af­ter the hurt of los­ing at the same stage last year this is where we aimed to be, to get a shot to turn the re­sult around and get the win this year.

We know it will be a mas­sive chal­lenge as Knock­anna are ob­vi­ously a top class team but we have a lot of self-be­lief in our own game and are a re­ally close knit bunch so hope­fully that will come through on Satur­day.

We played them in the group stage of the cham­pi­onship ear­lier on in the year and although we came out on the wrong side of the re­sult by a cou­ple of points I think we took a lot from that match as a team. I sup­pose it helped us high­light a few things we needed to work on but also showed where we can get some joy out of Knock­anna. Since then we have re­ally pushed on and im­proved.

There will be noth­ing easy about the match Satur­day though and ev­ery ball will be hard won so we have to be ready to front up and go into bat­tle.

There is never much be­tween the two sides and I’m sure this fi­nal will be no dif­fer­ent so we just have to do ev­ery­thing in our power to get the win.

I’m fully con­fi­dent that if we turn up and play our A game we can get the win and bring the cup back to Donard but we’ll have to do our talk­ing on the pitch and put in a huge 60 min­utes plus in Baltinglass on Satur­day.

Donard-The Glen Se­nior camogie cap­tain Emer Mi­ley.

Knock­ananna cel­e­brate last year’s win.

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