YOU can hear it in Kate Nolan’s voice. The joy of being back in the field with her intercounty colleagues. Last Thursday the Myshall stalwart and battle-hardened intercounty camogie player headed back down home from Dublin for a training sessions with Carlow. She cannot wait for their first game away to Waterford, on Saturday in Kill GAA club at 2.30pm, while Carlow then have two home games against Clare and Limerick.
“I am delighted. I really am. I am feeling very good about it this year. All good. All very positive,” she said joyously.
It wasn’t her first evening back but after such a long time away from the field each training session is embraced as if it was her first one back after the restrictions had been lifted.
“Delighted. It was a long time coming. We didn’t know whether we would be back or not so it was great. I supposed everyone was a bit anxious to get back. We have a lot of new girls and it is a bit of the unknown for all of us,” she says.
Speaking of the unknown, Carlow are taking on Waterford in their opening division 3 group 2 game away from home on Saturday. After that in consecutive weeks they welcome the Clare and Limerick teams.
“We never really came up against Waterford or any of the teams we are playing. They are different to what were the usual suspects (eg Laois and Wexford). You want to be playing these matches and are under no illusions it is going to be tough. We will give it a really good go,” Kate promises while welcoming the suggestion camogie playing numbers in the county are soaring.
“The new clubs like Setanta and Kildavin who have just started are really welcome,” she points out.
It hasn’t been a huge problem in Carlow so far but at national level the camogie and ladies football associations are set to clash over how their fixtures are arranged. There is talk of making life easier for the dual player but talk is talk and the situation needs to be seriously addressed.
“I haven’t thought about it too much,” admits Kate who acknowledges it is a talking point nationally at club and intercounty level every year
“It doesn’t directly affect me but it does affect those who are doubling up. Someone like Rachel Sawyer. It is a lot for her to be choosing from one to the other.
“We have two matches at home. Clare and Limerick. From the camogie side we are being facilitated very well at local level. The same for the footballers in Carlow but at national level it is out of our hands.”
She says she would like to know who Carlow are playing in the championship while clarity on that might give an indication about when club action might start.
“For us, it is still up in the air a bit. We still don’t know our fixtures (championship) at county and club level,” she says.
In the meantime the intercounty players can look forward to the white heat of competitive battle. Last year they were dealing with restrictions being imposed and the danger of the spread of Covid. This time, restrictions are being eased and there is a feeling the vaccination program and people following the guidelines will help to gradually re-open sports at all levels.
“All we know is that for the next three weeks we have our league. We did well last year. It will be interesting to see how well we go this year. All I can say we are delighted to be back playing and we will give it a good go. Everyone is in the same boat. It is new to everybody. We are all in it together,” Kate concludes.
By Kieran Murphy
*Saturday’s game will be streamed live on Waterford Camogie’s YouTube and can be viewed here