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Brídíní Óga hope to come of age in All-Ireland Junior A Camogie Final
By John Harrington
When poor weather conditions forced the postponement of Brdn gas AIB All-Ireland Junior Camogie semi-final against Adare, it came as very welcome news for most of the Antrim clubs players.
As the news came through on the night before the game many of them were attending the wedding of team doctor Nicole Laverty, including her sisters Kirsty and Bronagh.
Not the ideal preparation for a match no matter how well you mind yourself, and Kirsty believes the postponement might have made all the difference because they only squeaked past Adare by a single point in a ferociously fought game a week later.
My sister was obviously glad we won the Ulster Final when we came off the pitch but she was soon in tears because she knew the semi-final would clash with the wedding, recalls Laverty.
She sort of saw it all coming because even when we won the Antrim championship she was studying the Ulster fixtures and figured out that if we won the Ulster title then the All-Ireland semi-final would be the same weekend as the wedding.
So, to be fair, it was an absolute blessing so when it was postponed. Myself, my sister Bronagh, and another six or seven players from the starting team were at that wedding.
We personally and the whole team to be fair was very glad that it was postponed and we had another week to get ourselves sorted. I really do think that if we had to play that match the day after the wedding it could all have been very different because it was such a hard-fought game.
Thank God it worked to our favour the way it did and we were able to prepare properly.
Brdn ga players celebrate after winning the AIB Ulster Club Junior Camogie Championship.
Juggling many commitments has been something of a theme for the Brdn ga players all season because as well as winning Antrim and Ulster camogie titles, most of them also won the Antrim Intermediate Ladies Football Championship.
That made for a very hectic sporting schedule, but Laverty believes it was a blessing rather than a curse.
It was nothing we didn't expect, she says. 13 or 14 of us play football and camogie and we've always done so it was nothing that we haven't experienced before where you'd have a camogie match one weekend and a football match the next.
And because our footballers have two teams, if the girls that also play camogie aren't on the senior team they're on the junior team, so we're all involved in some way or another.
There were five or six weeks in a row where it was just match after match but we didn't mind, it worked out well. We're well fit for it and we had no injuries, thank God.
I think it's an advantage to play both codes because it keeps you ticking over and keeps you fit.
Brdn ga are now reaping the rewards of significant work at underage level in recent years. Winning the Antrim Intermediate championship was the Holy Grail for a long time and finally getting their hands on that piece of silverware has seemed to energise the team.
Rather than be satisfied with achieving a long-time target, doing so has emboldened them to go for more.
A lot of work has gone on in the club from when I first started playing senior, says Laverty. Honest to God, we worked hard to win a Junior B Championship, never mind winning an Intermediate Championship. We were knocking at the Intermediate door for a long time and it was always Loughiel stopping us, but we stuck together.
When we got by them this year in our first match we were determined that this would finally be the year we won the county championship.
We've brought through a lot of younger players who would have been part of a team that won a File in Kinnegad six years ago and it's the combination of them coming in and some of the older ones sticking together that has really made this team.
The thing about this team is that because of all of us also play Gaelic, we're never done seeing each other. You spend most of the nights of the week together so that helps to develop a great team bond.
The Brdn ga team that defeated Adare in the AIB All-Ireland Club Junior Camogie Championship semi-final.
Confidence in the group is high after such a hard-fought semi-final win over fancied Munster champions Adare, but Laverty knows an even better performance will be required to claim victory over Wicklow and Leinster champions Knockananna in Sundays All-Ireland Final.
Their opponents are a great story in their own right, making it to a Junior A Final a year after winning the Junior B Championship.
They're definitely a team we respect, says Laverty. What they've done in the last two years has been phenomenal.
They've never taken their foot off the pedal since winning that All-Ireland Junior B Championship, they've kept going, and are playing at a really good level.
"It'll just come down again to who wants it more on the day and they'll be gunning for it the same way we will and we'll just see what happens.
They might have a bit of an advantage in so far as they know what it takes to win an All-Ireland Final and have experience of an occasion like this.
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