THE Cahalane family has been racking up serious mileage over the last few months but must embark on one final journey in support of Méabh Cahalane and the Cork senior camogie team in this Sunday’s All-Ireland final.
Dual Cork star Méabh is preparing for her third All-Ireland camogie final appearance as the Rebels take on Galway in Croke Park.
Unsurprisingly, her family has been there every step of the way.
Dad Niall and mum Ailish are no strangers to important sporting occasions as are her brothers Damien, Conor and Jack. Orlaith is also following in her big sister’s footsteps by representing the Cork minor ladies football and camogie squads.
This is a Cahalane household that has travelled the length and breadth of the country in pursuit of All-Ireland football, hurling and camogie glory over the past few months.
‘In fairness to my parents, they have been dragging everyone in the family around the country to our matches,’ Méabh says.
‘It is a great complaint to have. Jack has had great success with the U20s this year. Damien and Conor’s year didn’t end the way they would have wanted but Orlaith played in the All-Ireland minor camogie final so it has been all go.’
The Cahalane’s passion for sport has made for some interesting post-match journeys.
‘Our parents try to be as positive as they can be when it comes to giving us feedback on training or games but I don’t think you can be too sensitive in our house either!’ the Cork defender laughs. ‘You have to take it on the chin if things aren’t going well. Era, it works well both ways.’
It took an epic semi-final victory over Kilkenny at Croke Park for Cork to reach this year’s All-Ireland senior camogie decider. It’s taken a lot of hard work in this strange year to reach this point.
‘It is very exciting when you think of all the individual training we had to do during the first couple of months of this year. Just to be able to reap the rewards of that and reach an All-Ireland final shows that all the hard work has paid off. So, it is a really exciting time for the whole group,’ Méabh says.
‘As for the semi-final, we always knew Kilkenny would come back at us at some stage of the game. They are a great to team to get goals and we knew if the game was there or thereabouts that they would come at us.
‘When we went two points down, even though there was still six minutes left, maybe it wasn’t looking great for us. That’s when we showed great composure to get back in the game and then Linda (Collins) coming off the bench, she made such an impact. For her to get the winning point was very fitting with the impact she had on the game.’
There is little doubt that Galway will provide formidable opposition to Méabh and Cork in Sunday’s final at Croke Park. This season’s national league semi-final defeat to the Connacht side underlines the task facing Paudie Murray’s charges. Galway triumphed 1-19 to 1-17 after extra-time over Cork in Nowlan Park.
Méabh understands the task that lays ahead but, in her third All-Ireland final appearance, is clearly relishing the opportunity.
‘Galway are such an experienced side and have been involved in three All-Ireland finals in a row now,’ she says.
‘We know we have a massive challenge ahead of us as Galway have beaten us the last couple of times we have faced them. We will really have to be at our best to put it up to Galway on Sunday.
‘This is my third All-Ireland camogie final (appearance) but every game you get to play in Croke Park, be it a league final or All-Ireland semi-final, whatever, you experience nerves leading up to the big day. You know you have the work done and all the training sessions put in so when it gets to a day or two before the game itself, it is more a case of looking forward to it.
‘There is a huge amount of excitement in the build-up and then the ref throws in that ball. Hopefully, we can enjoy the occasion leading up to it as these days don’t come around too often.’
It is unlikely that Sunday’s All-Ireland camogie final will be the last special day Méabh Cahalane and her family experience. Thankfully, there is plenty mileage left in the Cahalane cars.