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Dublin: 11°C Sunday 16 May 2021

'I know myself with injury, it’s hard to feel a part of it when you haven’t really participated in the win'

Kilkerrin-Clonberne captain Louise Ward ready to give sidelined sister Nicola one more day out before the season’s close as Mourneabbey clash looms.

Galway footballer and Kilkerrin-Clonberne captain, Louise Ward.
Galway footballer and Kilkerrin-Clonberne captain, Louise Ward.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

KILKERRIN-CLONBERNE CAPTAIN Louise Ward would love to give her twin sister Nicola a big day out before Christmas.

The Galway and Connacht champions go into battle at home to Cork stars Mourneabbey in this afternoon’s All-Ireland Senior Ladies Club championship semi-final (Throw-in 2pm, TG4) – with an 8 December final place up for grabs.

Kilkerrin-Clonberne knocked out 2017 All-Ireland champions Carnacon in the recent Connacht final – but Nicola wasn’t involved as she continues to rehab a knee injury that also saw her miss out on the county six-in-a-row.

Although named in the starting line-up for today’s game, Nicola’s unlikely to feature but Louise reckons there’s a chance she might be involved next month if Kilkerrin-Clonberne did manage to advance.

“I want to win the match to give her the chance to play this side of Christmas,” says Louise.

“She’s been working so hard and I’ve never seen someone that’s been so diligent in their rehab.”

That’s quite a statement from Louise, a physiotherapist who’s working in a local nursing home.

She smiles: “When the final whistle went [against Carnacon], I hit the floor, goosed after the match, on the far side of the pitch to where our dugout was.

“Next thing, I got up and she was standing right beside me. I asked how she’d managed to get over so quick with a dodgy knee!”

Nicola Ward NIcola Ward won't see any game time as she continues her recovery from a knee injury. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Nicola’s joy at seeing her team-mates get over the line again in Connacht was tinged with the natural disappointment of not being involved.

And Louise nods: “She was disappointed – and the next day as well.

“A lot of people were coming up to her and saying it’s great the girls managed to do it without her.

I know myself with injury, it’s hard to feel a part of it when you haven’t really participated in the win.

“But she has been there to help us through games and all of the girls wanted to do it for her, no more than Maeve Flanagan, who’s out with her second cruciate in two years, she’s a Galway minor star as well.

“It was really disappointing for her but she wouldn’t go around saying that, she’s not that type of person.

She just wants to be there for the team. Hopefully we’ll be able to give her another day out this side of Christmas – that’s my aim anyway!”

And the likelihood is that Kilkerrin-Clonberne will be right in there with a chance as the clock ticks down on today’s game.

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In 2014, they lost out by just four points against eventual winners Termon from Donegal at the semi-final stage.

A year later, the heartbreak was even more acute, as Mourneabbey snatched a one-point victory on Cork soil.

“We kicked something like 13 wides in the second half,” Ward grimaces, as she recalls that Mourneabbey game.

“We were there or thereabouts. We haven’t been too far off. It would be nice to get over the line [but] semi-finals aren’t always going to be pretty.

“It’s just about getting into a final whatever way we can. We’ll have to see how it goes.

“We’re under no illusions about what Mourneabbey are going to be like as well – they have half the Cork panel on their squad!”

Lauren Magee with Louise Ward Louis Ward (right) under pressure from Dublin's Lauren Magee. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

But the feeling in Kilkerrin-Clonberne is that anything’s possible following the scalping of Carnacon.

That was a sweet victory, as the Mayo aces had beaten them in a gripping Connacht final replay last year.

Ward recalls: “We were so disappointed – we were four points up both days and let it slip.

We felt hard done by because we probably should have won but we didn’t dwell on it.

“Going back this year, the first thing everybody was saying was that we wanted a crack at Carnacon again. I know we have tough competition in the county to get to that stage but that’s what everybody wanted to do.

“The celebrations were great afterwards – it’s just such a community thing. You saw the amount of fires out for us on the way back, it was really nice.”

It might just have been the beginning for Kilkerrin-Clonberne. Louise Ward certainly hopes that’s the case, and for Nicola’s sake, too.

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