‘We’ve lost so many All-Irelands here, maybe that fear just held our girls back’

– Emma Duffy reports from Croke Park

‘DÉJA VU,’ KILKENNY boss Ann Downey says after another crushing All-Ireland senior camogie final defeat, settling into her seat to face the media.

They’ve reached six deciders in this decade, and lost five of them. Since Downey took the reins in 2016 and steered them to All-Ireland glory ending a 22-year wait for the O’Duffy Cup in doing so, they’ve fallen short in 2017 and 2018 by a single point to Cork.

Today, goal-hungry Galway were six-point winners. Downey, a multi-All-Ireland winner as a player herself, accepted that the Tribeswomen were the better team. 

Her side maybe could have done better, but Cathal Murray’s side won fair and square.

“The three goals really killed us,” she frowned, “and they all came from their puckouts that was landing on our centre-back.

They won the breaking ball and from that their centre-field was doing the overlap. We just didn’t contain it. In fairness, Galway hunted in packs today and we didn’t. It’s all about the day, and we didn’t perform on the day.

“At half-time we knew there was more in them. We made some positional changes, moved Claire Phelan back to full-back and moved Meighan [Farrell] back and that helped the situation.

“We got within two points of them but never closer. They were never going to leave us in for a goal, it was impossible, they swarmed us and they were hungrier than us.

Katie Power dejected after today’s loss.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I’ve no idea why. Maybe it was that they haven’t been here for so long and we were here the last few years. Maybe our players were so afraid of losing, they weren’t able to express themselves. We’ve lost so many All-Irelands here, maybe that fear just held our girls back. I know they’ll be disappointed with their performances.”

Lisdowney club woman Downey admitted that with new opposition and a new challenge, her side were hoping things would go better. 

“We came up with great hope,” she said. “We knew we’d have to battle hard and go toe-to-toe with Galway and we just weren’t able to do that today.

Some of our younger girls played with freedom but maybe the end of the line is nearer for some of our older players from last year and that holds you back. But I couldn’t ask any more of any of them, they’re trained so hard and given such commitment.

What about rallying to go again?

Very hard, she responds. Plain and simple.

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Ann Downey congratulates Cathal Murray.

Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“They’ve been here so many times and come back and come back but it’ll be a long winter and we’ll reassess after it, sit down and see what everyone wants to do. They’ll go back to their clubs and we’ll be there for them and support them to try and get over today.”

Humble in victory, gracious in defeat, Downey was full of praise for Galway.

“They’re a super team, they haven’t been here for a long time and that hunger,” she conceded. “They defended really well, hunted in packs. Galway had done their homework and stopped our overlap. It all goes down to the will to win and the hunger and they had it in spades today.

“I know people will say we’ve lost so many and how hadn’t we the hunger but they had it more than we had today.”

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