It is all happening for Oulart-The Ballagh. The camogie and hurling teams completed a Leinster double before Christmas and now dream of welcoming two AIB All- Ireland trophies by the end of March.
The teams have much in common, although the camogie representatives are further down the road. Mary Leacy and her team-mates have won two AIB All-Ireland camogie titles in the past four seasons, one on either side of the two-in-a-row achieved by their rivals in Sunday’s All-Ireland Senior Camogie Club Championship final, Milford.
They also boast a number of players that have won at the highest level with Wexford. Leacy, Karen Atkinson, and Ursula Jacob have all been winning captains. Leacy’s younger sister Úna, who has played no part in this campaign due to a cruciate knee ligament injury, was the fourth. Leacy was particularly pleased the hurlers ended provincial heartache and identifies with their travails.
“Both of our successes are mirrored off each other,” says the recently-married Leacy. “We lost five Leinster finals before we won our first one as well. The difference, probably, was that a lot of us were very, very young, and were coming up against Freshford, who were a very experienced team at the time. The fellas have had some very tough opposition too.”
The point is that while defeats like that leave scars, the girls’ belief was total, based on the still unmatched five consecutive Féile Division 1 titles from 1998 to 2002. It would come, and it did.
You never forget that breakthrough though, just as the club went ballistic when the hurlers finally ended their torment. “Everyone was so happy for the lads because they’ve taken so much stick, particularly from within the county. To win five county championships (2009-2013) was some achievement and they were the only team to have ever done it. Like us, they stuck at it.”
Ironically, the hurlers are managed by Frank Flannery, the man who masterminded Milford’s march to their two All-Ireland successes in 2013 and 2014. “He’s kind of keeping his head down. They don’t train the nights we’re training but in saying that, he’s been very supportive over the last few months.”
Flannery has moved on but Milford remain serious opposition, having garnered a fourth consecutive Munster title. “We’re expecting a very tough, dogged game. It’s down to who wants it more.”
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