BY KIERAN McCARTHY
TWENTY-EIGHT minutes into the county intermediate camogie final last October, just after Enniskeane scored their third goal in seven minutes to jump 3-2 to 0-3 in front, Colleen Twomey was worried.
It was an ‘oh feck’ moment.
‘After their third goal, my heart definitely jumped at that point,’ Colleen admitted.
‘Going into the game we never thought we were going to lose the county final but I did panic a little but after their third goal.’
Fear not, Newcestown’s response was impressive. It was the stuff of champions in the making, and by half time the gap was down to a more manageable six points, 3-3 to 0-6.
‘We were confident enough still at the break, we knew we had a lot more in us, that we were better than what we were playing and that we had a lot of the ball but couldn’t score – that all changed in the second half,’ Colleen says, and she was to the fore that day, finishing with six points (five from placed balls).
One of her scores in the second half drew Newcestown level, another edged them in front, another doubled the lead, then tripled the lead, as they saw off their neighbours and rivals by 1-13 to 3-4.
The celebrations were huge. This win completed a league and championship double, Enniskeane also beaten in the league final at the end of May.
The rewards were many: promotion to senior B for 2018, a chance at Munster glory and a special guest for two team-mates weddings that followed in the week after the county final win. Colette Desmond, player of the match in the county final, was first to walk down the aisle, two weeks after the big win in Brinny, and a week later Frances Deasy got married.
The county cup was treated like royalty at both.
‘Once the DJ came on at midnight in both weddings, the Newcestown camogie team took over the dance-floor. It just added to everything,’ smiles Colleen, who has been playing with the club since she was 13 years old and has seen the ups and the downs.
The county intermediate final was definitely an ‘up’ moment, coming off the back of the 2015 county junior final win against Watergrasshill where Colleen was the star of the show. She has played senior B in the past but rewind back five, six years, the club regarded from senior B to intermediate and then to junior – but they’re back now and in a far better position.
‘There seems to be a lot more interest now,’ she explains.
‘There are some very talented players coming up from U16 and minor and there is a good core of older players there already and they mix well.
‘Suzanne Deasy, Hilda O’Mahony, Emma Crowley, Colette Desmond, myself, we’re some of the older girls and then you have younger players like Maria Kenneally who came on this year, Ashling O’Donovan, they were all revelations for us. It was my first year playing with them and I was delighted to have Maria next to me or Ciara O’Sullivan; you know you can give them a ball and that they will use it well. There’s trust there, throughout the team.’
Off the field, Newcestown made sure they left no stone unturned.
They started training in the last week of January, Buddy O’Mahony, the local publican in Newcestown, took the team for strength and conditioning classes in the hall for six weeks, then Conor Condon took over on the pitch with Sean Twomey a massive asset, too. His drills, Colleen says, were unreal, faultless.
‘The two guys who came on board with us at the start of the year, Conor Condon and Sean Twomey, they really added a professionalism this season. It was a really professional well-run set-up and we knew we had a great chance of winning the county,’ she says.
‘We had Lisa O’Donovan doing all the organising of matches so we went into every game very organised and we knew what we were meant to do.’
After the ‘up’ of the county final came the ‘down’ of Munster club intermediate camogie final against Lismore of Waterford who won, 1-10 to 0-8, the rescheduled final played at Castle Road in November.
It’s one that still hurts Colleen.
‘It was a great experience to get to the Munster final but we never got off the ground that day,’ she says.
‘I am still finding it very hard to take.
‘Myself, I didn’t perform on the day, my frees didn’t go right, everything went wrong.
‘For a lot of us, we just never got going.
‘We achieved what we wanted to achieve last season and we did win the county so we have to keep reminding ourselves of that.
‘Because I hadn’t played in 2014 I hadn’t suffered a camogie defeat since 2012, but then it went wrong in the Munster final.’
Still, Colleen and Newcestown achieved their number one target and won the county title, and it means a step-up in standard in 2018 when they return to the senior B ranks.
‘I wouldn’t be one bit afraid of any team we’ll come up against,’ she says.
‘Half the team know what it’s like up there at senior B and over the last few years the younger girls have got fierce experience, they are used to winning and they don’t know what it’s like to lose in championship.’
Colleen had waited a long time before winning her first camogie medal with Newcestown in 2015 and now after adding another to her collection, she wants more in the new year.