Hurls and hurling talk waiting whenever Farrell sisters come home to Kilkenny
Anna Farrell isn't used to it like this.
As far back as she can remember, sisters Shelly and Meighan have been by her side. Travelling to Kilkenny training, going to matches and on the pitch too; no matter where she looked, one of them was close by.
The last few weeks have been strange in Thomastown though.
Shelly has been gone since the start of the year. Her relocation to Sydney had been flagged for a while and Anna and indeed the rest of the Farrell family, at least had time to come to terms with that.
But for the last few weeks, Meighan has been gone too - on her travels in southeast Asia - and on the other side of the world, the trip to county training in Kells Road has been a good bit quieter.
"Shelly is gone for a while now to Sydney, I can kind of get used to not having her but not having Meighan either, now that was strange," laughs Anna at the John West Féile day.
"Going to trainings the last few weeks, having no one else in the car, God I’m not used to that! Even on the pitch, usually we’d look for each other a lot of the time! But Meg will be back - she’s in Cambodia and Thailand now at the moment, having a brilliant time. She will come back for championship now absolutely flying and I can’t wait till she comes back!"
Far away in body, but the Farrell girls' minds never stray too far from Kilkenny. Anna admits that her phone has been hopping these last few weeks with the sisters looking to keep up with the Kilkenny scene.
"Oh yeah. I got a video off Shelly the night before the League final just saying she was going to stay up to watch it. The time difference was kind of killing us for the matches but she was staying up to watch it in Sydney and Meg was the same, she was watching it in Cambodia at the time!"
"We got a lot of videos and texts after the match, saying hard luck and that. It’s hard when they’re not there, I know Meg herself would have been dying to play that game," says Anna.
Meighan would have been available, only for the decision to postpone the camogie final for a week to hold it as a triple header with the hurling and the football deciders. Despite this change depriving Kilkenny of their centre back, Anna feels it's a great way to boost the profile of this game.
"She was very disappointed to miss it but I think the idea was to have it with the hurling and the football so it could get more exposure, that is brilliant in fairness and hopefully we can keep it going the way ladies football is going and keep people seeing the best of the game - rather than the stopping and starting and the frees and that. Hopefully we can have it a bit more free-flowing, I think that will help the game itself, it needs to develop with the players that are playing it. I think people will watch it more if it is like that instead of just, a lot of frees."
And whenever the girls do come home, the hurls will still be there and the talk will still be hurling and camogie.
"There was no escaping it really! My Mam and Dad trained me the whole way up with the club since U8’s, U10’s and it’s the same for Meg and Shelly, it’s always been our parents involved with us. Our brother Johnjo then always hurled with the county growing up as well. There’s very little dinners where we’re not talking about matches or training! Dad trains our senior team at the club at the moment so any time we’re doing drills with the county, ‘well, what’s the new drills?’ trying to get all the new drills to bring in at club level," she laughs.
That's the way it is in Kilkenny.
"It’s nothing different to other families in Kilkenny, there’s so many of the teams that we’re playing against where they’re all sisters and cousins and relations, that dynamic is in the GAA in Kilkenny, Galway, everywhere you go. The GAA is like that, it’s all a big family anyway.
"If you don’t play well on a big day, you’re going to be devastated but when you have two girls on the team there with you, they pick you up again. It’s nice to have that understanding, she knows what it feels like when things aren’t going right. Same with your parents, they try and back you all the time. It’s not anything special in our family, everyone is very similar around the county"
Safe to say she's playing it down a little bit.
Mayo footballer Lee Keegan joined Limerick hurler Aaron Gillane, Mayo ladies footballer Niamh Kelly and Kilkenny camogie player Anna Farrell in Croke Park to launch the 2019 John West National Féile and to announce that John West will renew its sponsorship of the National Féile for a further four years until 2022.