Milford's rebel spirit driving them to All-Ireland glory once again
Rebels are always ready for the fight.
It’s in their blood, it’s in their attitude, and for most Cork people, it's part of their DNA.
But sometimes the battle is not external. The hardest enemy can often be the face staring back in the mirror.
Milford camogie club are less than 20 years in existence, but the north Cork side are already one of the most successful ever to grace the game.
They are also a team that has faced more battles than most in recent memory, and have not always come out on top.
All-Ireland champions in 2013 and 2014, the Cork side are back in Croke Park this Sunday as they face Galway outfit Killimor in the AIB All-Ireland senior club final.
It is arguably their toughest fight of all.
Their breakthrough in 2012 came after near misses in both the 2009 and 2011 Cork county finals.
They had become a team that instead of hoping not to be beaten, demanded that they won.
The losses locally brought them closer, it created a team spirit that would see them embark on a 20-game unbeaten run from their maiden success in 2012, claiming two All-Irelands in the process, until last February. Until Mullagh.
The Galway champions were waiting. Mullagh were told they could not beat a team with Anna Geary and Ashling Thompson. How would they stop this club juggernaut?
It was a set-up, and Milford were the patsy.
The Galway side rightfully earned the honour of marching into Croke Park by wearing down the Cork champions, by studying their tactics, their form, and most all, out-fighting them on the day.
A battle had been lost, but the war was only beginning inside the minds of the Milford players and management.
Rebels love a fight. It is what they train for; it is what their minds are best attuned to. If there is no fight, there is no heart. And without both, there can be no success.
The loss to Mullagh stunned Milford, but it was also an awakening. Where they had grown soft, they now needed to get hard again.
John Brudair took over the team, and the fresh voice was just what was needed.
Geary committed to one more year, despite the agony of a knee injury, and the twice-weekly slog of travelling miles and miles from Dublin to Cork in solitude.
Thompson brought her inter-county energy to bear. She did not want a break; she wanted only success, and the chance to right a wrong.
Ann-Marie Sexton took over as captain, Emer Watson became the focal point, and everyone became a leader.
The Cork championship was secured in October, and the team marched on to Munster glory, claiming a fourth provincial crown in as many years.
They had earned the right to get back to another All-Ireland semi-final and this time there would be no ambush.
Oulart-the-Ballagh put up a champion's resistance, but were undone by a Milford side whose only aim was Croke Park in March
The rebel needs a cause to fight for, something to believe in. Rebels need to be prepared to wait, to endure, to hold on for that one vital chance at glory.
Success does not always come quickly. But success will come, and Milford have waited for their chance. A year without an All-Ireland is too long for this group of players.
They have also come back for more, and trained the next generation. They have created a legacy that the club can be proud of, that the team can look back on, and with success on Sunday, look forward too more of.
They are a team of survivors, they are the battle-hardened veteran, who explains that no-one can understand what it was like, if they were not there.
Milford have been there, they have the scars to show it, and they are ready for one more rebel uprising in 2016 to win an All-Ireland title.
Brought to you by AIB GAA, proudly backing Club & County. Follow AIB GAA on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.