AOIFE Keating wants to set the record straight this Sunday.
The Kinsale captain felt what it was like to lose an All-Ireland final last year when they were beaten in the junior decider by St Maur’s, 2-13 to 3-8, and it hurt.
But what stung deeper was the knowledge that the Kinsale players didn’t do themselves justice on the day.
Nerves were seen as the main reason Kinsale took time to get going but this team is a year older and wiser, and Keating feels that they are in a better place ahead of their All-Ireland decider against Dunboyne.
‘We didn’t do ourselves justice at all,’ she said.
‘We don’t talk about it a lot but when we do, we acknowledge that.
‘Last year what probably hurt the most was that we could have won it but we didn’t perform.
‘We were down eight or nine points at half time and only lost by two in the end but we left ourselves with too much work to do in the second half. Another five minutes, who knows what way it could have gone.
‘That’s what hurts the most, it was there for the taking but we didn’t perform in the first half at all.
‘Last year we would have been very nervous and almost scared of the occasion, and that’s what happened in the first half, we were taken aback by the occasion whereas this year we feel more comfortable.
‘Everyone knows what it’s about now and we want this more than ever.’
Kinsale have blazed a trail through the intermediate grade with largely the same team as last year – but there has been the notable addition of three Bandon players, Aideen Lynch and Niciole Quinn both start while Grainne Cowhig is an option from the bench.
The big difference between this season and last is that Kinsale now have more self-belief and confidence, buoyed by their success at junior and intermediate levels.
‘We are a lot more mature now,’ Keating said.
‘Last year getting to the All-Ireland final opened our eyes as to what we could achieve. I don’t think there was a lot of belief there before that but last year’s journey to the All-Ireland final showed us that we can achieve what we want to.
‘At the start of this year our goal was to win the intermediate county and when we won that, we were in bonus territory but having experienced last year, we immediately switched focus and wanted to win Munster.
‘From losing last year and remembering what that hurt felt like, that gave us a sense of determination to get back to an All-Ireland final and correct the wrongs of last year for ourselves.’
Aoife has two sets of twins as siblings – Sinead and Timothy and Fiona and Daniel – so she so well used to fighting for what she wants, and what she wants now is an All-Ireland title.
Joined in the full forward line by Cork senior Orla Finn and former minor Sadhbh O’Leary gives Keating extra confidence because she knows what her team-mates are capable of.
‘Orla and Sadhbh have such cool heads, there is no panic and they can kick scores from anywhere,’ she explained.
‘Orla has been to so many All-Ireland finals so she brings a lot to the team on the big days but in a really calm way and that’s what needed. Orla has scored so much all year and so has Sadhbh, she kicked three goals in the county final.’
Focussed on ‘starting from the start’ and ensuring Kinsale give a good performance, Keating is confident that they will make up for last year’s heartbreak.