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'It means everything' - Ashling Thompson set for All-Ireland final after ban overturned

The Cork star was ‘a colossus’ off the bench in the semi-final after a last-gasp appeal was successful.

Ashling Thompson (file pic).
Ashling Thompson (file pic).
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

ASHLING THOMPSON SAYS “it means everything” to be preparing for the All-Ireland senior final after a tumultuous few weeks.

The Cork camogie star was cleared to play in Saturday’s semi-final win over Waterford at the eleventh hour, her two-match suspension for a recent red card overturned that morning.

Thompson was orignally shown a yellow card during the Rebels’ round-robin loss to Tipperary. After the final whistle, she received a straight red for allegedly using abusive language towards referee Justin Heffernan.

The decision was upheld following a hearing, but a last-gasp appeal was successful, and the 32-year-old made her impact felt off the bench in the dramatic semi-final win.

“At the end of the day, I put myself in that position and I’m not going to make any excuses, you know,” she told RTÉ post-match. “I’ve always owned up to every mistake that I’ve made, and I’ll do the same today.

“It’s about putting your emotions and feelings to one side, once you’ve crossed the white line. It’s about leaving everything on the pitch, and I felt I’ve done myself justice.”

At today’s All-Ireland camogie finals launch, Thompson was asked what it means to be back in the decider, particularly now with the dust settled after a turbulent time.

“It means everything really,” she began. “It’s your goal at the end of the day, to get to the All-Ireland final and to build collectively as a team. I think we’ve done that from the outset, we’ve had a few setbacks along the way but we’ve really grown together as a unit.

“Obviously it was a difficult enough week before the semi-final but I had the backs of my management and my team-mates, got us over the line in the end.”

Sitting beside her was manager Matthew Twomey, who shared how “relieved” he was to have Thompson back at his disposal. “I suppose we thought she was going to be gone for the whole rest of the campaign, but thankfully… when we got the phone call coming off the train, it was a huge relief. We had to use her probably sooner than we thought, but when she came on the field she was a colossus. It was great.”

Thompson was sprung from the bench in the 22nd minute, replacing Katie O’Mahony to shore up the defence. Cork had yet to score at that point, their first contribution making it 0-5 to 0-1 after 24 and-a-half minutes.

The Milford powerhouse made her impact felt from the get-go, and ultimately helped Twomey’s crew overcome a five-point second-half deficit to chisel out a five-point win over the Déise.

cork-management-including-coach-davy-fitzgerald-and-ashling-thompson Cork management including Matthew Twomey and Davy Fitzgerald with Ashling Thompson pre-match. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I was only saying it to one of the girls that I was fit to run into the tunnel after five or 10 minutes,” Thompson recalls of watching on. “Just in general, it’s very hard to watch it from the line. It’s something that I haven’t really experienced myself. It was frustrating, but I have a lot of faith in those girls.

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“We don’t really do panic. I know for the audience looking on, there was probably a lot of panic in the stadium, but I had no fear to be honest. I have their back the same way that they have mine. There was a lot of time left, there was 40 minutes to be played, and to me that was plenty to give.”

Was Davy Fitzgerald just as calm? “I don’t know,” Thompson laughed. “I don’t know if Davy Fitz and calm goes in the same sentence! His experience alone, there’s enough to be said for. He has faith the same way Matthew has faith in us and there was plenty of time left, fortunately.”

Twomey dead-panned as he confirmed his coach, the 2013 Clare All-Ireland hurling winning manager, was most definitely not, with Thompson grinning “I was trying to be nice!”

“No, look, it was disappointment in the way that we started and frustration, we weren’t playing to the plan we had set out for them,” Twomey added. “We would have gone in at half time and readjusted things, the calmness was there alright. He was grand!”

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