BY MARTIN WALSH
KINSALE’S band of sisters have conquered the junior and intermediate grades these past two years – and now they are keen to make their mark at senior level.
After another memorable season last year where Kinsale won county and Munster intermediate titles, and contested a second All-Ireland final in a row – they were unlucky to lose by a single point – the team was presented with the 2017 Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Team of the Year award on Saturday night.
Captain Aoife Keating’s passionate acceptance speech was one of the highlights of the night, and afterwards she told The Southern Star that Kinsale are gearing up for their first campaign at senior level.
‘We are back training, obviously senior is a whole new ball game, there are some incredible teams there like Mourneabbey and St Val’s,’ Aoife pointed out.
‘I suppose the one thing we have on our side is the fact that we have a huge hunger, we have youth, the average age of the panel is only 20 years.
‘We have years and years ahead of us and obviously we will have an adjustment period at senior level. We have some incredibly talented young players. We are looking forward to it and will give it our best shot.’
Aoife, a medical scientist student at the Mercy Hospital, Cork, believes the bond that is within the group is driving Kinsale ladies football to new heights.
‘We are completely united, it’s a very close team,’ she said.
‘Before every match we speak about the fact that we are not doing it for ourselves, we are doing it for each other.
‘Usually, you put 30 girls together and you get problems, that’s how we are wired, but that’s not the case with this team.
‘Genuinely, it’s fantastic to be part of it and everyone around us – friends, families and supporters – pull together. It’s unreal and it’s what has brought us to where we are.’
Aoife acknowledges the support of the Kinsale region and how the cosmopolitan town has embraced the team.
‘The support that we received from the town is absolutely fantastic, the flags are still up, we are never going to let it go,’ she said.
The knock-on effect is also very positive.
‘Because of what we have achieved and the journey, a lot of younger girls have joined the club. Last year, we had two U12 teams, the numbers have gone that big.’
She added, ‘It’s nice when people tell us it is because of us, we are their role models and they look up to us and want to be part of what we have. The bond and the friendships, anyone would want to be part of that.’
The outstanding contribution of team coach Micheál O’Connor doesn’t go unnoticed.
‘He has dedicated so much time to us, he’s at every training session and match. He is always thinking about the next step. We always say to him that we can never express how thankful we are to him.’
Kinsale defied a lot of odds in the past season to power through the intermediate grade – and they are not finished yet.
‘We always believed in ourselves. Two years ago we were probably lacking self-belief, but from that point on with the squad and management, we started to believe in ourselves. When you do that, others buy into to it too. You can achieve great things when that happens,’ Aoife added.