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'There was many a year I was walking off a pitch only scoring one point and the opposition scoring 6-20'

Pamela Greville speaks to The42 about the highs and lows of playing camogie for Westmeath.

PAMELLA GREVILLE DIDN’T realise the unique accolade she had achieved in October until she saw it all written out in front of her.

pamela-greville Pamela Greville standing over a free in last year's All-Ireland final. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The Westmeath camogie stalwart had just helped her county to a historic victory over Limerick in their Group 2 opener of the All-Ireland senior camogie championship when she spotted her name on social media.

Sports broadcaster Will O’Callaghan was the one who put Greville’s achievement under the spotlight. 

That victory over Limerick was Westmeath’s first championship win in the top tier camogie competition. It also completed an interesting record of individual victories for Greville.

“Pamela Greville has now won games in All Ireland Junior B, Junior A, Premier Junior, Intermediate and Senior,” the Tweet reads. “Some going.”

Limerick went into that tie last month with a somewhat weakened side, after nine players withdrew from the squad for various reasons.

Still, the Leinster outfit — who defeated Galway in last year’s All-Ireland intermediate final — capitalised on their chance to make a grand entrance to the senior ranks. It was a nice way for Greville to announce herself in the big leagues too.

It was actually a proud moment for me when I saw it and realised that I had won a game in each of them so it was a happy day for me,” she tells The42 in the days after that three-point win.

“It was historic for us to be playing in it first of all, but then to go down and win it was just brilliant.

“I suppose when you’re training away and there’s hard slogging, you’re not training to lose. So every single game you go to, regardless of who you’re playing, you’re trying to win.

“We put our best foot forward. It was a huge team performance and it just clicked for us.”

That victory put Westmeath in a good position to progress to the knockout stages of the championship, although they subsequently suffered a heavy defeat to Kilkenny.

The Cats are the most likely to emerge as the winners from Group 2 but Westmeath’s goose is far from cooked.

Their group campaign finishes this weekend with a home tie against Waterford, where a chance to progress to the All-Ireland quarter-finals as a runner-up is still up for grabs.

It’s a good place to be in considering it’s their maiden voyage through the senior competition, having only won the All-Ireland Premier Junior title in 2017.

“We got a taste for it back in 2017 with the Junior,” says Greville “and we’ve been lucky enough to be able to have a kind of concrete set of players that have been playing together for the last four years.

“So we have the spine of the team there, and then there’s people coming and going, and catching off the vibes from us.”

The 2019 season was a particular highlight for Greville. Along with winning that All-Ireland intermediate crown with Westmeath, she also enjoyed Leinster junior success with her club Raharney. They continued on to the All-Ireland final where they were eventually defeated by Kerry side Clanmaurice after a replay.

The intermediate final with Westmeath saw them rally from seven points down at half-time to narrowly overcome Galway in Croke Park.

“It was a day that I will never forget and it was a shock to a lot of people and I suppose with us, at half-time in that game, we knew we hadn’t shown as much as we could have.

“The regrouping helped us and we just gave it our all and came out on top. I think winning with your county helps then with your club because we went back to our club scene and won the county final and pushed on.

“Raharney had never won a Leinster and we’ve been knocking on the door for quite a few years so getting to the Leinster final, maybe the experience few county players that we do have on the club team would have helped us push on and win that game.”

pamela-greville Greville on the ball for Raharney in the All-Ireland junior club final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Greville’s nine-point display saw her pick up the Player of the Match award to cap off an incredible day for Westmeath. And it was a beautiful family occasion for her, as both of her brothers were part of the management team that day.

Johnny is the Westmeath manager while their other sibling Jimmy was part of the backroom team.

Pamela was being interviewed by the Sunday Game as she accepted her award, only to have her brother [take the limelight? or something like that?] when a very proud Johnny came in to steal the show.

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“Johnny’s the talker out of the duo I have to say,” she laughs thinking back.

“Ah yeah it was great. Even to think back to that day and the likes of standing in front of that screen and getting interviewed, that’s something that I never thought could happen to me and sure we just so happy and it was just such a great day.”

Greville’s 15-year-old daughter Stephanie was also in attendance for that All-Ireland triumph last year, travelling on the team bus to Croke Park before taking her seat along with the rest of the Greville family.

She contacted her Mam after the historic win over Limerick this year to tell her that she was proud of their ongoing success, and has been a constant support for Greville through the years.

We were lucky enough that she got to come onto the pitch afterwards so they were super memories for her, she really treasures them.

“She appreciates everything we do now more than anything. Me going training and how much I actually put into it. She just understands what it takes to compete at this level, so that’s a great lesson for her going forward.”

Greville was just 20 when Stephanie was born. An unexpected arrival, but she quickly readjusted to make room for her daughter. She even got back into camogie shortly after Stephanie was delivered. 

To an extent, Stephanie was reared on training grounds, was brought to several games and made friendships with her mother’s team-mates.

“Yeah it was a shock,” Greville recalls from when she discovered that Stephanie was on the way to this world. “I was very young.

“But I suppose it kind of redirected my focus towards camogie which was something I always did growing up and then I got into it more. At times, I think only for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today in regards to camogie.

“I think I went back after six weeks so thank God for being young because you couldn’t do that these days. It’s just the camaraderie among your team and just getting back mixing with people, it was brilliant.

“Many a game she came in the back of the car at two or three. She knew all the girls and she was just part of every team that I played with.”

Westmeath camogie is in a healthy and progressive state now, but there were plenty of barren times for the Leinster side.

About six years ago, Greville came close to quitting the inter-county scene after her county lost out to Laois in a Premier Junior semi-final. There were many other defeats piled onto that that left Greville wondering whether she had reached her limit.

“We were down with Laois and I think it was a semi-final. It wasn’t the nicest of games. I’m probably lucky at my stage of my career that I’m getting to finish off.

Like last year, we had the intermediate win and there was many a year I was walking off a pitch only scoring one point and the opposition scoring 6-20, and going ‘What am I doing?’

“But at the end of the day, definitely myself, I believed Westmeath camogie had the players, we just didn’t have them all in at once.

“So we kept pushing on the door and I think Johnny was involved about four or five years ago, and a few of the older players got onto him and we tried to make him believe that the players are in the county, we just need the set-up to try and get everybody together and see what we can do when we have everybody.”

Greville is the Office Manager of the Mullingar Golf Club, and on the day we speak, golf clubs around the country are being forced to close under the Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.

She admits that she feels the decision is “strange” but adds in the same breath that she accepts that such measures are being recommended to protect public health.

Inter-county games however, are free to proceed and Greville’s Westmeath still have a great puncher’s chance of keeping their show on the road.

“We go out on the pitch and you forget about Covid,” she says about being back on the pitch.

“I think the protocols and everything that are put in place are robust enough to be able to maintain our distance and follow all the rules. And we’re all adults at the end of the day, and it’s a safe place for me.”

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