There are moments as a spectator when, exceeding all the chaos and madness and excitement for a second, a player just beats all and stuns you into silence.
These are the moments that, in walking out the gate with the game lighting up your mind, in chatting to the person next to you or in picking up the phone to make sense of it all, you’ll always come back to and one thing’s for sure, you won’t be silent anymore. Galway and Cork played out a thrilling All-Ireland camogie final on Sunday afternoon, all skill, intensity and everything you’d want in a game of camogie but after the cup was lifted, after Mundy and Sharon Shannon had blared around the place and as you strolled back out into the evening air on Jones’ Road, it all came back to the point Niamh Kilkenny scored 40 seconds into the second half.
“I can’t really remember it,” said the Padraig Pearse’s player after the game.
“But I just remember thinking not to get blocked down, so I just tried to create a bit of space…”
It wasn’t an easy thing to do. Ashling Thompson decked Aoife Donohue just before the throw-in and from that moment onwards, it was clear to everyone in Croke Park that if you were looking for space in the grass or time on the ball, today was not going to be the day. The ladies football final showed the previous weekend that, if it even needed to be shown, women’s GAA and its fitness and intensity and skill levels are all rising at a rapid rate. Galway hunted in packs, Cork returned the favour and the camogie final was yet another example.
In scoring her wonder-point, the marvellous Kilkenny showed all of these traits but for the 32-year-old and for anyone that’s ever watched her play camogie, that’s nothing new. This long time, along with her partner in crime Donohue, Kilkenny has stood out as one of the best players in the game. Like all the great players in any sport, she has a brilliant sense of awareness on the pitch, an aura confidence on the ball and most importantly, a tendency to spring to life when her team needs her the most.
Galway needed her in that second half and that was when, with no fewer than five Cork players trying to close her down, the 2019 player of the year defied each and every one of them with a mystifying set of jinks, flicks and dummies. It was only after making it through her own individual maze and splitting those posts that everyone, the Cork fans included, could hang in disbelief at the brilliance before their eyes. Because it wasn’t as if the Cork players had given her a free-pass or a licence to thrill, it wasn’t as if this was a shot to nothing with the game over, no, Kilkenny, at a crucial time in the game, had just navigated her way through what seemed a hopeless situation to give Galway belief again.
Credit: RTÉ GAA.
So the talk was Galway this and it was Galway that after the game. Aoife Donohue’s will-t0-win got a mention, Siobhán McGrath’s knack for a big-game-goal was talked about so too was Dervla Higgins’ fire in the corner. But it all came back to that point scored by Niamh Kilkenny. That was some point. Did ya see that for a point?