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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 25 September, 2018
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'He eats, sleeps, drinks camogie' - the Galway boss winning All-Ireland titles decades apart

Tony Ward is continuing to steer Galway in the right direction.

Tony Ward celebrating Galway's 2013 All-Ireland final win.
Tony Ward celebrating Galway's 2013 All-Ireland final win.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

WHEN GALWAY FINALLY ended their All-Ireland camogie drought two years ago, there was a direct link to the victories.

Back in 1996 Tony Ward was at the helm and 17 years later he was still showing the way on the sideline.

They’re back in the senior decider next Sunday and it’s Ward who is plotting to take down reigning champions Cork.

“He’s a fantastic record,” admits Galway captain Niamh Kilkenny.

“1996 was the first time Galway won the All-Ireland and Tony was manager. And 2013.

“All the different managers we’ve been through, he seems to be the only one to bring a successful team to Croke Park. He just loves camogie.

“He’d be on the phone to you 24 hours a day if you let him. He’s always making sure we have everything and we’re well looked after.

The Galway team celebrate as Tony Ward and grandson Oisin Helebert Galway players celebrate their camogie league final win and are joined by Tony Ward's grandson Oisin Helebert (18 months) Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“He eats, sleeps, drinks camogie. He’s a fantastic manager.”

Ward has already enjoyed success this year with Galway. They won the Division 1 league final last May against Cork and also enjoyed a victory over the Rebelettes in the group stages in June.

Facing a team that you have beaten twice already creates a tricky dynamic for Galway.

“We know a lot about them and it will obviously give them great motivation going into the game that we have beaten them twice already,” admits Kilkenny.

“They’ll probably want to get one back on us. We had them in the league final and the first round of the championship. Both games were extremely tight.

“We were up a good few points at half time in the league final and Cork came back again within three.

Niamh Kilkenny  and Shane Stapleton Niamh Kilkenny gets presented with the Player of the Match award by Shane Stapleton after the league final in May. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“In the first round of the championship it was just two points near the end that sealed victory for us.”

Galway enjoyed another close and dramatic victory in their recent semi-final against Wexford.

They chiselled out a slender one-point win but there was a cloud over their progression when Wexford appealed that defeat.

Molly Dunne and Ailish O'Reilly celebrate at the final whistle Galway players celebrate their All-Ireland semi-final win over Wexford Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“We didn’t focus in on it at all,” says Kilkenny.

“In our minds we were preparing for an All-Ireland final and we just kept our preparations going.

“We were delighted that it was put to bed though and it was finalised.

884805841 Niamh Kilkenny (second left) at the recent All-Ireland camogie finals launch. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“Obviously on the back of your mind you’d be thinking of lifting the O’Duffy and obviously it would be a dream come true.

“I just want to keep my focus on the 60 minutes of camogie and hopefully everything else will fall into place after that.”

Poll: Should GAA inter-county hurlers and footballers be paid to play?

Here’s the Limerick team aiming to win the county’s first All-Ireland U21 title since 2002

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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