*Photograph: John Mangan
Having lost their three year senior camogie stranglehold at the semi-final stage in 2019, Inagh-Kilnamona are back with a vengeance this year as a renewed freshness and vigour has permeated throughout the squad once more according to manager Eugene Foudy.
It may pale in significance when compared to Newmarket’s four straight final losses but it’s all relative for Inagh-Kilnamona who have their own axe to grind after being dethroned at the penultimate stage of the championship last year.
Having taken an immense effort just to rise through the ranks and contest their first final in 2015, that extra-time reverse to the Blues wouldn’t derail Inagh-Kilnamona from finally making the breakthrough 12 months later against the same opponents, with two more subsequent McMahon Cups bolstered by back-to-back Munster Senior Final appearances.
Add in an accumulation of underage and Under 21A titles and all that mileage appeared to weigh heavily on Inagh-Kilnamona in 2019 as two defeats in four matches saw them prematurely bow out of the senior championship. But having recharged and batteries and resharpened their appetite, Inagh-Kilnamona have returned a more focused and determined squad for 2020 according to manager Eugene Foudy who has been part of all their senior successes to date.
“It just didn’t happen for us last year. We had a couple of long years and I could bring in the atrocious weather and injuries too but there are no excuses, we just weren’t good enough on the night. Scariff-Ogonnelloe beat us fair and square on that day and with the way things have worked out this year with COVID and the lockdown, when the girls did finally get to come back training, they have really put their shoulders to the wheel.
“To be honest, we really didn’t mention last year as we can’t turn the clocks back and there’s no point living in the past. So we’ve only looked forward and as soon as the championship draw was made, we knew that we were in a tough group and had to put our full focus on just trying to be in the top two. We took it game by game. We overcame Truagh in the first round and that gave us confidence going into what was a really tough, physical battle with Scariff-Ogonnelloe. So to win that was a great boost as Scariff-Ogonnelloe had beaten us twice last year, both in the senior semi-final and the Under 21A Final.
“And since then, they’ve really knuckled down, training has been going well. The girls are enjoying it and are looking forward to the final and hopefully, if the weather stays fine, we should have a really memorable two days of camogie here [in Fr. McNamara Park] this weekend as the field is in immaculate condition.”
It’s the perfect setting for the ultimate showdown between Inagh-Kilnamona and Newmarket-on-Fergus, their fifth final duel in six season in fact which has led to nothing but respect between them. “Newmarket play camogie the way it should be played. It’s 15-on-15 and they go hammer and tongs at it up and down the field. They’re physical, they’re experienced and have a great central spine throughout in the McMahon’s [Roisin and Laura], Lorraine Bible and Carol O’Leary so they’ll be relishing the chance to play us again in the final and trying to get one up on us.
“But we’re ready for that. Just to get to the final by a hair’s breath against Kilmaley in the semi-final was huge and it certainly gave me plenty of ammunition to hit the girls with since. Look, sometimes you go into a semi-final and whatever is said beforehand, there’s perhaps a small part of your brain that’s subconsciously telling you that we should be winning this. And therefore when you’re hit with a thunderbolt by a team with more focus and determination, it catches you unawares and it’s difficult to change gears. But that won’t happen against Newmarket because we know exactly what’s coming this weekend. We have to give them the utmost respect but then play to our maximum because it will take only our best performance to come out on top”.