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A first camogie All-Star for Waterford to cap an historic 2018, but bigger and better on the cards

Scoring sensation Beth Carton has been leading the Déise charge.

2018 WAS AN historic year for Waterford Camogie, and for Beth Carton. 

Beth Carton Waterford star Beth Carton. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Déise featured in the All-Ireland quarter-finals for the first time ever, while their scoring sensation Carton capped the journey with a first camogie All-Star for the county.

It was an incredible journey, one on which many memories were made; the standout one for the star forward the game which saw them book their place in the final eight, and etch their names into history.

It was a winner takes all tie against Clare at Cusack Park, and will surely be to the fore of Waterford players’ minds this weekend as they welcome the Banner to Walsh Park in similar circumstances [Saturday, 5pm].

It’s a day Carton is more than happy to look back on. 

“I suppose the big one would have been when we qualified for the quarter-final,” she tells The42, grinning as she recalls her standout moment of a ground-breaking 2018.

“We had a very poor start to the year against Galway. Everyone was down, but it showed the character of the girls that we put the head down. We got the win against Limerick and then we had to go to Clare to win it and make a quarter-final.

It was either us or them. Look, that was a big one because it was so close as well on the day. To know that you’re in a quarter-final and you’re playing in Pairc Ui Chaoimh against Tipp, just to get over that line was the aim at the start of the year.

“Look, even though it didn’t end well, it was a good year in hindsight.”

Carton’s 1-9 was key against the Banner, and she starred again with 1-4 against Tipperary. But it wasn’t to be as they suffered a seven-point loss, and a championship exit on Leeside.

A hugely positive year overall, the 20-year-old was instrumental from start to finish, top-scoring week in, week out, and her outstanding efforts were deservedly recognised with a place at corner-forward on the 2018 All-Star team.

Beth Carton Carton is a leading light in attack. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

3-36 across five championship matches and 2-37 in the league was more than enough to see her collect Waterford’s first camogie All-Star award. More history.

“I’m absolutely gobsmacked to be honest, I wasn’t expecting it at all,” she’s quoted as saying at the Citywest Hotel on the night. And that surprise is still evident seven months later at the launch of the 2019 championship.

You were so shocked? 

“Literally, I still am,” she laughs. “I’m asked the question and I don’t know what to say.

Ah no, look, it was good. But it’s behind us now. This is a completely different year. You have to start again. I have to put it behind me now and hopefully this year will be a good year.”

She’s the type that would prefer to deflect the limelight and the praise, happy to just take a back seat and talk about the next job at hand rather than dwell on the past.

But it’s important to revisit big occasions as such, and massive milestones in sporting careers.

“It was so lovely to share it with my family,” she beams about the night itself. Carton is more at ease speaking about that and those closest to her than the individual recognition and the award itself. 

Those things mean more to… Jesus, obviously it meant so much to me. But to your family, it means a lot to them, they go through it all with you.

“There were four of us nominated, there was a good Waterford crowd. I see it as accepting it on behalf of the girls here as well, any of them could have won it. It’s more of a team thing. We enjoyed it as a team.”

With the news that this year’s camogie All-Star Tour is heading to New York in November, Carton can hardly contain her excitement. But she’s well aware that there’s a hell of a lot of camogie to be played between now and then. 

Kathleen Woods and Deirdre Ashe present Beth Carton with a 2018 Camogie All-Stars Award Receiving her All-Star last November. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Her beloved sport is a way of life, she beams. And has been from her childhood right the way through.

“My family would be big into it, my Dad is massive into it,” she explains with a giggle, “As soon as you could walk, you were kind of playing it.”

When she came of age, her club, De La Salle, didn’t have a camogie team back then. Her father coached the underage boys — he still does — so off Carton went to training with him one day, and she’s never looked back since.

“It took off from there, it’s just a thing that we love to do. It is a family thing as well,” she adds, explaining how basketball was her other big sport growing up.

“I played a lot of basketball . It was on in the winter so it used to suit, keep you a bit fit as well. I played with the Wildcats at home. 

I’m playing a small bit of Gaelic at the moment with Erin’s Own. We won the junior last year. I suppose it’s very hard when you’re at this age because it’s so serious. You don’t have a lot of spare time. I’d love to even be up at the [camogie] club more.

It’s the camogie now anyway, she stresses, although she’s really enjoying the football too; the fact that there’s less stress involved and it’s a bit of a break away from the small ball game.

A PE and Geography teaching student in University of Limerick (UL), Carton is heavily involved with the Ashbourne Cup camogie team there as well.

She jokes that she wouldn’t be up to O’Connor Cup football standard, but she’s most definitely a leading light on the hugely successful camogie side.

“Ah look, it’s brilliant up there. I really enjoy it. The friends you make through it is huge really. We had a great three years now, next year will be harder again but we enjoyed this year anyway.”

Roisin Breen and Beth Carton celebrate after the game Celebrating UL's Ashbourne Cup win with Roisin Breen. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Thing’s are going fairly well on the Waterford front at the minute, with Group 2 championship wins against Meath and Dublin under their belt, and a loss to Tipperary in between. They’re second on the table behind Cork with quarter- and even straight semi-final spots at this rate a reality.

At the outset of the championship, Carton said that the Déise were back to square one, with 2018 well and truly in the past. They’ve shown that thus far anyway.

It’s going to be harder again this year,” she noted. “Teams are so close and there’s nothing between the lot. We’re just looking at taking each game as it comes.

People may look at Cork and Kilkenny as the top two, but anything could happen.

“That’s sport as well,” she agrees. “Cork, Kilkenny and Galway are that bit ahead, we’re all striving to get there. Tipp are probably next. We just have to keep working, that’s all we can do. Go out every day and give it your all, and hope your hard work pays off. 

Each team is so different and brings different challenges so it’s just trying to adapt to that each week. We just take each game as they come and hopefully the results will come too.

“It’s tough,” she concludes on the intense week on week action, the memories of last year’s huge win over Clare flooding back. “But it completely depends if you get a bit of momentum, you’re loving it.

“In my opinion, the more big games you have the better for the player. It’s what you train for. It’s why you’re training in October and November, to play games like these.

“For myself anyway, some players may be different, but the more matches you can get the better.”

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Emma Duffy

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