Club player of the year McGrath adjusting to life on lockdown

Sarsfields’ All-Ireland medal presentation was scheduled for last Saturday evening. Gallagher’s of Ballyfa should have been packed to the rafters.

Sarsfields' Erica Leslie celebrates with club player of the year Siobhan McGrath (right). Photo: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Sarsfields' Erica Leslie celebrates with club player of the year Siobhan McGrath (right). Photo: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

But as with every other planned gathering this past fortnight, the club’s victory social was shelved. Sarsfields’ all-conquering camogie players will have to wait another few months, at least, before getting their hands on the set of medals they spent four years chasing after.

The medal presentation is, of course, ceremonial.

The goal of being first to the summit, of avenging the All-Ireland club final defeats of 2017 and 2018 was achieved on March 2.

With both of those previous defeats having arrived at the hands of Slaughtneil, Sarsfields were staring down the barrel of a third final loss to the Derry women when trailing by the minimum as the clock spilled into injury-time at the end of last month’s decider.

Nineteen-year-old Siobhán McGrath was to prove the Sarsfields saviour, striking to the net in the 61st minute to deliver the East Galway club a first All-Ireland camogie crown.

McGrath was not expecting much of a break following the conclusion of their memorable club campaign. She was due to link back in with Galway as they ratcheted up preparations ahead of championship. But the county's All-Ireland title defence has now been put on hold.

On top of her club exploits this spring, McGrath won an Ashbourne Cup medal with University of Limerick. Though still a teenager, she’s long since become accustomed to having a busy sporting schedule.

So, how is she adjusting to the new norm of no training, of no games, of not even being allowed to meet up with friends for a puck around?

“When you are in that team setting, people are pushing you on without you even knowing it. It is a lot easier to go down to training when there are another 30 girls there with you. You are trying to do it here [at home] with just one or two others, my sisters, and so it is very easy to say, no, I won't bother training. You have to have that bit of motivation to keep it going. You'd miss the social aspect more than anything, really,” says Siobhán, who was today announced as the AIB camogie club player of the year.

Not that she’s stuck for company at home, mind. There’s eight in the McGrath family, in total, and although some had flown the nest, all are back under the one roof for the duration of the Covid-19 lockdown.

“It’s nice because you’re not getting too bored. There’s always someone to talk to.”

It is pretty safe to assume that the All-Ireland camogie championship won’t be throwing-in as scheduled on June 13/14, but McGrath, one of four sisters on the All-Ireland winning Sarsfields team, is optimistic of it being run off at some point in the second half of 2020.

“The way the camogie is, it’s not as bad as the hurling championship in terms of the amount of teams, so even if they did have to restructure it, I don’t think it would be that much of a big deal. I would be very hopeful that it will go ahead in some shape or form, definitely.”

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