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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019

Aiming to atone for Croke Park setbacks, ladies football success and getting set for life in Abu Dhabi

Sarah Harrington and the Cork camogie side are hoping for better in today’s intermediate final.

BACK FOR A third go at getting the desired outcome.

For Sarah Harrington getting to captain Cork on All-Ireland final day makes it a significant occasion, but recent results and her plans after the decider only enhance the importance of today’s intermediate showdown. 

Sarah Harrington Cork intermediate captain Sarah Harrington. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I’m a primary school teacher, I taught in Bunscoil Mhuire in Youghal for the last year, but I’ve decided to take a different route this year. I’m actually heading off to Abu Dhabi after the All-Ireland. Niamh Ní Chaoimh, who was captain last year, she’ll probably follow me out as well.

“She went last year, loved it and everything but came back at the end of May to hopefully go out and win an All-Ireland. That’s how much it means to us. I know it’s not senior but for us it’s everything.”

The will to succeed has only grown. 2016 in Croke Park saw the Cork intermediate outfit lose out by a point to Kilkenny. Last year they finished all square against Meath before losing out in the replay a few weeks later in the Gaelic Grounds. 2018 is a chance for redemption then.

The aftermath last year in Croke Park was particularly odd as the intermediate side had the surreal experience that is a draw while their Cork senior counterparts were celebrating.

“It’s a big anti-climax. You’re building up for a massive win or loss, when you don’t get either, you wonder what was all that hype about? We had to go again.

“Going home with the seniors for the homecoming, obviously we were delighted for them and proud of them and their win but it was very tough being part of the intermediate team who still didn’t know where we were at.

“Fair play to Meath, when it came to the replay, they really got ahead of us. It was their day and we can’t begrudge them that.

“Croke Park is a familar place for us. I’m a strong believer that it doesn’t matter how many times you play in Croke Park, you still get that nervous, butterfly feeling.”

Intermediate camogie is her focus now but Harrington has senior experiences in a different code to draw on as well.

“I was on the Cork ladies football panel, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Playing both was difficult but I suppose I just never really broke onto the football team so I made a decision in my final year of college to just go with the camogie.

“It wasn’t that I was choosing, I was just getting games with the intermediates and I was starting. I love football but it just came down to game time.

“I got to play with legends, girls that have 10 All-Irelands. To play alongside people like that and learn from it is amazing. I was young at the time and I probably didn’t appreciate it like I do now.”

Sarah Harrington and Orla Finn celebrate Sarah Harrington and Orla Finn celebrating Cork's 2012 All-Ireland final victory. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

It may be a lower grade but the intermediate group is one she savours being a part of.

“The intermediates, the bond we have within the team is just something fantastic. I wouldn’t say they’re my team-mates, they’re my friends. I’m very lucky and I’m very grateful.

“Leah Weste, Sarah Buckley, Fionla Neville and Niamh Ní Chaoimh, I suppose the five of us are known as the oldies, we’re all great friends, we hang around together outside camogie.”

Sarah Buckley, Leah Weste, Sarah Harrington and Finola Neville celebrate winning the League 2 title Sarah Buckley, Leah Weste, Sarah Harrington and Finola Neville celebrate winning the Division 2 league title this year. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

And after a couple of seasons that culminated in heartbreak, they hope to sign off on a successful note.

“We hope it’s third time lucky! We’ve had a loss, we’ve had a draw and there’s still one feeling we haven’t felt. This is what everybody dreams of when they’re small. To win an All-Ireland in Croke Park would just be a dream come true. Hopefully we’ll get there.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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