Kathy Carey aims to take Saffron back to the future

Ten years have passed since Kathy Carey last won at Croke Park. An All-Ireland Junior Championship winner with Antrim in 2009 and 2012, sentiments ran the opposite in 2016 as Longford proved too strong and again last year when Wicklow was crowned champion.

That moneyglass lady could be forgiven for thinking that success had become a regular occurrence, considering how her career began, but as the years passed when an Antrim captain last stood Hogan Climbed the stairs, Carrie has been very philosophical about the big day.

Just before noon this afternoon, Carey and his Antrim teammates will take the field for a showdown with Ulster rivals Fermanagh, and if they are looking for an omen, each of the previous three winners lost in last year’s final. Including Farmanagh. Got on the line in 2020 after falling at the final hurdle in 2019.

Perhaps it gives a glimpse into the added motivation to favor a defeat and come back bigger and better, and that’s exactly what Saffron will bid to do and end that 10-year wait.

“I’ve had two wins and two losses, so I’m hoping that will improve my record a little bit,” Carey said. “I have a little bit of experience, but each one” [final] With different teams brings its own challenges, so hopefully it will be a better experience.”

Carey’s first experience of the big day was a magical one with a win over Limerick and he is the only remaining player from that side in action today.

Team manager Emma Kelly swapped the number three jersey for the sideline, while Ein Tubridi is the only other player to have a 2012 success, so the overwhelming majority of this Antrim side tasted disappointment on the biggest day in women’s football. Is.

The 32-year-old, who worked as Ampersand’s operations manager, said, “People probably think I’m crazy, but every year you chase it and you won’t play until you love it because there’s a lot of it.” There are sacrifices.” Fitness in Toom.

“I’m glad to be the last” [from 2009] Still kicking. You don’t know it’s been so long that the seasons go by so quickly. Maybe it’s a mature thing now, but it doesn’t happen every year. Girls have to feel this and you have to take your chances.

“I think last year will stand out for us because as soon as that game came to an end, it looked like we didn’t fulfill our potential that day. We didn’t show what we were made of or what we did to get there. What did the girls do for that injury and know what to fix from last year in terms of preparation and how they deal with this opportunity.”

For the best part of a decade, St Paul’s dominated the county senior championship in Belfast, outclassing everyone in front of them and reaching the All-Ireland Intermediate Final in 2019, only on a late charge from Offaly’s Naom Ciaran. undone.

The club remains a strong representation in the panel, but their days of dominance in the county are over as Carey and St. Argonauts foiled their bid for 10-in-a-row last year. The South West of the county has woken up a lot and this Antrim team now has a great balance of clubs with players being developed across the board.

In fact, last year the team’s sharpshooter Grené McLaughlin won the junior title with his club Glenavi.

“I coach a little and you’re going to see more and more teams coming in at a younger age,” agreed Carey. “If those teams keep building their way up and can take those girls to senior, you’ll have more senior teams and other teams stronger. It’s just a knock-on effect from the work being done at a young age.” So you hope that’s where it’s going and the county is moving forward.”

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Kathy Carey of Antrim. Photo: David Fitzgerald / Sportsfile

Another key to raising the standards for the county team will be to move up to intermediate and that’s what Carey identifies as the main prize on offer this afternoon.

“I really believe this team has the potential to compete at a higher level, but you only know that from playing teams at higher grades. You won’t find it playing at the same level, so up in intermediate to county To be there would be a really big boost because we would be in Ulster and it would work out a lot better if we were in All-Ireland.”

To do so, he must meet familiar rivals Farmanagh this afternoon. The teams have already met three times this year, with Arnesiders taking points in the league meeting, but Antrim bounced back with a win in the Ulster Championship and then advanced to the final despite being seven points behind at the break. Supported. ,

This fourth installment is likely to be just as competitive, so the extra edge will be crucial for Saffron to end his 10-year wait for the All-Ireland title.

“They’re three very different games and teams have different personnel, so it’s hard to know what any team will bring to the table on Sunday,” reflects Carey. “I’m sure it’s going to be a tough match – I wouldn’t expect anything less from Farmanagh. Both teams will be well prepared for it provided we play each other several times. It’s also good for Ulster because the Cup Moving north, but hopefully in our direction.”

In 2009, Kathy Carey realized that glory days would become a regular occurrence, but the experience taught her the importance of making the most of the opportunities that came her way.

There will be no shortage of inspiration in Antrim today and after waiting so long to return to the steps of the Hogan stand, Carey is determined to rediscover that winning spirit.