IT HAS been quite the journey for the ladies’ footballers of Kinsale, but goalkeeper Aisling Judge is keen to ensure that it doesn’t end yet.
On Saturday, the Cork intermediate champions will look to add the Munster crown to their portfolio when Clonmel Commercials of Tipperary provide the opposition in Mallow (throw-in 2.15pm). Given that the club were junior A last year and will be competing at senior in 2018, it has been a whirlwind.
‘It has all happened so quickly,’ Judge says.
‘To be fair, when there was underage success a few years ago, people in the club were saying that, once things clicked at adult level, we’d be hard to beat and that’s what has happened.
‘Once thing that’s very noticeable is the maturity within the team. Last year, we lost the All-Ireland junior final but I think we learned a lot from that.
‘Playing teams from outside of Cork is great for the development of the team, you come up against sides you’re not familiar with and different styles. Out on the pitch, it’s up to the players to react to situations and last year definitely stood to us that way.
‘I think that losing gave us a sense of unfinished business and we want to make up for that this year. It’s important to show that last year wasn’t a one-off.’
That attitude was evident at the beginning of this year, with no sense that they were in intermediate just to make up the numbers.
‘We met in January,’ Judge says, ‘and we decided that the main goal was to win the intermediate championship, everybody felt that that was realistic.
‘We had played a lot of intermediate teams in challenge matches and done well against them and the standard in junior A was quite high.
‘It took us ages to get out of the grade, it’s kind of like the men’s, it can be a bit of a slog, but the last few winners had done well at intermediate. What made things a bit more difficult was that some senior teams had been re-graded, which made for a different challenge, but we came through.’
Kinsale beat Rosscarbery by 3-11 to 3-7 in the county final but Judge admits that the team were not overjoyed with the display in the final. The disappointment in that performance meant that Kerry champions Austin Stacks bore the brunt of Kinsale’s frustrations in the Munster semi-final, with the final score in Mallow 8-17 to 1-5 last Saturday week.
‘They were coming in after a win,’ Judge says, ‘but we had a great start, we probably benefited from having a few weeks off.
‘One of the umpires was standing next to me and asked if we’d ease off on them but we were out to prove that we could put teams away and play for the whole 60 minutes. It was a reaction to the county final, really.
‘As well, the conditions were perfect that day. We’re a footballing team and we thrive in dry, calm weather.’
The forecast for Saturday is set to be anything but dry and calm, but Judge isn’t waving the white flag. ‘It’ll be a different type of game, definitely,’ she says, ‘but we’ll welcome it.
‘From what we know of Clonmel, they’re a big, physical team whereas we’re maybe a bit more slight, but there’s a lot of grit and determination there.
‘If you look at last year, probably our best performance cam in the All-Ireland semi-final against Kilmoremoy from Mayo and that was in the worst conditions. ‘We’ll be ready to dig in again on Saturday.’