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Caoimhe Lally of Clare.
Caoimhe Lally of Clare. Photograph by Natasha Barton

‘It’s everyone’s dream to play in Croke Park’- Lally


While players such as Niamh Mulqueen and Sinead O’Keeffe have had to contend with a multitude of set-backs and heartbreak to finally get to Croke Park, Caoimhe Lally is one of the younger generation of stars hoping to make playing and winning in Croke Park a regular occurence.
Joining the set-up straight from minor in 2021, the Newmarket-on-Fergus player was part of immediate success as a Munster Junior title was followed by this year’s National League Division 3B success so Croke Park was the next obvious step really I suppose.
“My mom said it to me at the final whistle of the semi-final ‘this has been your dream’ and let’s be honest it’s everyone who has ever picked up a hurley’s dream to get to play in Croke Park in an All-Ireland Final.
“There are a good few girls there like Rebecca Crowe, Niamh Mulqueen, Sinead O’Keeffe and Michele Powell that have been there for years and have had repeated heartbreak in All-Ireland Semi-Finals. So when the final whistle blew, we just all dropped to the ground because we had worked so hard for this and since October we had been gunning for Croke Park all along.
“Last year’s heartbreak of the extra-extra-time really drove us on as everyone from number 1 to 30 on the panel has felt such devastation after that one point defeat to Antrim.
“So we just went hell for leather for the year with just one focus in our minds and that was to get back to a semi-final and this time get over the line.
“So to finally do that, was just brilliant for everyone involved.
“We’re here now and we’re just really looking forward to the game because there’s great excitement.”
Not only was the senior set-up a culture shock but Caoimhe was also forced into a change of position that saw her moved to full-back in the absence of Michelle Powell who tore her cruciate earlier in the year.

My mom said it to me at the final whistle of the semi-final ‘this has been your dream’ and let’s be honest it’s everyone who has ever picked up a hurley’s dream to get to play in Croke Park in an All-Ireland Final.

“I got thrown into full-back by Ann-Marie McGann and Eugene Foudy in UL and I was wondering what was going on because I’d never played in that position before but throughout the college matches, I’ve just learned to play the position. Even watching other matches as well as the likes of Clare Hehir and Michael Powell play their positions have greatly helped me.
“I like it but there’s pressure on being the last line of defence. It’s a big responsibility but having the likes of Michelle Powell who was a Soaring Star nominee at full-back on the sideline helping me out and Sinead Hogg and Rebecca Crowe beside me on the field, these girls have massive experience and they just helped me get accustomed to the position.”
Having sailed through the group stages of this year’s All-Ireland Premier Championship, their first real evaluation tested the Banner to their very core when finding themselves six points in arrears midway through the second half.
However, the bond and understanding that’s within this group is now unbreakable according to Lally.
“In fairness we came in at half-time and we were down on our targets that we had aimed for. We were in a similar position in the league final and managed to pull through it so when we found ourselves six points behind in the second half against Armagh, I felt that everyone stayed calm which stood to us in the end as once we weathered the storm and got our own purple patch, we really capitalised upon them to pull through.
“Look, at the end of the day, we want to push on for intermediate now. We have already done that in the league and also have played intermediate in Munster and did okay so we just want to take that next step at All-Ireland Championship level. I think that is very important for the progression of this team especially the younger girls like myself that ultimately want to hopefully push on to the senior team.
“The jump from intermediate to senior is far less than the one from junior so it would be brilliant for Clare Camogie if we were able to achieve that.
“Tipp are going to be a tough opponent, they are good at all levels and have made great strides at senior this year so we just have to take our chances when we get them
“It’s only 60 minutes and I’m sure it will fly so hopefully we can make the most of this opportunity to play in Croke Park but more importantly win there.”

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