Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Eóin Noonan/SPORTSFILE Maria Cooney of Sarsfields was speaking ahead of AIB Camogie All-Ireland Championship semi-final
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Back-to-back bid and injury struggles - Cooney and Sarsfields have eyes on the prize
Maria Cooney discusses Sarsfields’ bid to defend their All-Ireland title, and her own injury struggles ahead of Saturday’s semi-final.

SARSFIELDS ARE BIDDING to underline their status as one of the great club Camogie teams, as they enter the All-Ireland series in pursuit of back-t0-back national crowns.

After defending their Galway crown with a narrow 2-11 to 2-9 victory over Oranmore Maree, focus now turns to St Vincent’s of Dublin in the last four.

But the county title defence took its toll on county star Maria Cooney.

“In our county semi final against Athenry, I had done damage to the inside and outside ligaments of my ankle,” she outlined.

“Going out I wasn’t really sure in that county final how long I was going to be able to last. I just thought, ‘OK I need to give it everything I can and adrenaline will get me so far.’

“But it got to a stage, I took a knock and I could feel it and it just wasn’t right. And I came out then in the second half, I think I lasted about 10 minutes or 15 minutes. But I had given everything that I could give. So thankfully we got over the line.

“The county final…probably set me back a good bit. I used up the reserves for that game.

“The last couple of weeks for me, they’ve been kind of slow, I’ve been trying to do a lot of rehab. Just focusing on trying to get back on a pitch.

“But it has been tough. I’m hoping I might be able to play some part in an All-Ireland semi-final, but that’s why you have a panel. There’s a panel there for a reason and we’re lucky that we have such depth in our panel that any one of those girls could step up.

“I don’t know what way it’ll go. I would need to try to get back on the pitch to have any hope of playing a game, but look I’ve been doing loads of rehab and bits like that. So hopefully I have enough strength built up in it.”

aib-camogie-all-ireland-club-championship-semi-finals-media-day Eóin Noonan / SPORTSFILE Sarsfields and St Vincent's face off for an All-Ireland final berth on Saturday afternoon Eóin Noonan / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

Moulded by both highs and lows in recent years – including three All-Ireland final defeats and two triumphs in the last six years, the Tribe representatives know they cannot afford to take anything for granted.

“At the start of the year, you’re going game-by-game and for your county championship, things like that,” Cooney explained.

“We just about got over our semi-final, just about got over our final. So that just shows kind of how tough a competition it is in Galway, which is great because they’re the types of games that you want, you want challenging games and and there’s small margins there, getting smaller every year you can see in the results, the teams are creeping up.

“Anything outside of that is bonus territory. At the start of the year, we weren’t setting out to [say] ‘we have to win an All-Ireland back-to-back’, that wasn’t the plan. It was game by game.

“We’re back into an All-Ireland semi final which is absolutely amazing. To be part of that, you’re never guaranteed to be there. So anytime you’re there, just to grab it with two hands and try make the most of it.” 

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maria-cooney Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Cooney was the Player of the Match in the 2019-2020 All-Ireland final Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

The Marino club will offer stiff opposition. The clubs are no strangers having met in January 2020, and Cooney says they can expect a tough test from the Dubliners.

“They’re probably a new opposition for us, we played them in the 2020 All-Ireland semi-final, but we wouldn’t have really met each other much other than that so I suppose we could only go by what we’ve seen in the Leinster final,” she detailed.

“But you could kind of see from that just how skillful, fit, strong they are and their desire and their want, it really showed in that game. We know how much of a huge challenge that we have ahead of us. They have set a standard that we have to try and meet.

“Each team is there to knock you off your pedestal and that can be done fairly quickly, as we’ve learned from our first game against Oulart-the-Ballagh (2020 All-Ireland final).

“We’re just going to have to give everything that we can and hope it’s enough.”

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