Niamh Rockett is champing at the bit ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Final. “It’s been a really good year up to now,” the talented forward told The Munster Express at Walsh Park last Tuesday.
“Fingers crossed, if we play the way we know we can, we can make it a great year in Croke Park.”
Niamh continued: “We’ve Division One of the League to look forward to next year after getting promotion earlier in the year; we’ve been knocking on the door for a while in terms of moving up a grade so all things going well, we’ll have senior camogie to look forward to in 2016 – but we’re taking nothing for granted in any way.
“We know Kildare will be serious opposition on Sunday – teams don’t end up in All-Ireland Finals by accident so we’ll have to come out hopping from the throw-in.”
Croke Park is not a new experience for Niamh, having lined out for Port Láirge in the 2010 Junior All-Ireland Final against Antrim.
“Ah, it’s been a while now – five years has passed by pretty quickly in fairness – but we’ve got to concentrate on the game more so than the occasion around it and what not. But we’re really looking forward to it. The young girls have shown what they’re capable of already and I’m confident that they’ll step up to the mark again at Croke Park.”
The two wins over Kildare already recorded this year are footnotes in the context of Sunday’s challenge against a side which is likely to deploy a sweeper to counteract the offensive threat Niamh Rockett and her team mates shall pose.
“It’s a whole different game, it’s a whole different occasion – it’s an All-Ireland Final and it’ll all come down to who handles it best. How the games went between us earlier in the year won’t count for a whole lot once the ball is thrown in at Croke Park. It’s pretty much a whole different ball game, but we’re very driven at the moment.”
Niamh added: “Camogie across the county is on an upward curve; the Under-16s winning their All-Ireland was a fantastic achievement and it would be nice to top it all off by stepping up into senior camogie.”
Reflecting on Waterford’s semi-final comeback against Kilkenny, the first thought in Niamh’s mind as the Deise stepped back onto the Nowlan Park sod for the second half, eight points in arrears was “to do ourselves justice”.
She continued: “We hadn’t delivered in the first half; maybe we’d been a bit nervous, but we’d committed to delivering a big performance in that second half. We owed it to ourselves, we owed it to the management, we owed it to our families who had travelled up to support us in such great numbers, and thankfully we turned it around.
“To come back into the Meath match and win it the way we did was very, very pleasing. You could see it in the faces of the management team on the line during the second half, and every single player, on the field and on the bench. We were all in it together and determined not to let each other down.
“And to see the club schedule cleared on Sunday is great – that’s incredibly encouraging so hopefully we’ll have a few more people travelling up to Croke Park to support us. Ita Murphy and Róisín Hartley have put in so much incredible work behind the scenes to raise the profile of Waterford camogie, online, on radio and in the newspapers – it all promotes our team and the sport and that’s brilliant. It’s great to be a part of all that too.
“And if we can round it off with a win, to focus on the game and not get swept up by the occasion, sure that’d be something else.”