IT’S nice as just 19-years-of-age to play in an All-Ireland final and it’s even nicer to emerge as a winner.
That’s what Kate Hannon did with Glanmire last Sunday in Ballinasloe as they were crowned All-Ireland junior ladies football champions.
It was a top-class game and one that was above the grade they were at with two sides, the other being Tourlestrane from Sligo, giving it their all over the 60 minutes.
Glanmire got off to a great start and were five points up at half-time, with Kate getting six in the first half.
She added five more to her tally in the second and it was no surprise that she was named Player of the Game afterwards.
But at 19, in age terms, she is a bit of a veteran of the side, something she commented on afterwards.
When other sides might be concerned about social nights out for Glanmire things like the Junior Cert were more of a problem.
Nine of their starting 15 were involved with their Féile teams in the last few years and if you averaged out the age of the squad it would probably come out in the area of 16 or 17.
So the future is certainly bright for the club that was formed just 18 years ago, winning the Junior B county last year, the Junior A this year, which then took them to Munster and ultimately All-Ireland glory last Sunday, winning by 1-22 to 3-11.
Another element to their win, along with manager Dave Carey, was the fact that Geraldine O’Flynn got involved with them this year.
The former Cork footballer is a born winner and when the Rebels came back from the dead to beat Dublin by a point in the All-Ireland final a number of years ago, Geraldine was one of the key players in the comeback.
She will have brought a level of commitment and professionalism that is probably well above the grade, but then again this squad/club have ambitions to reach the senior grade and if they keep this panel together it is a very realistic one.
“It’s amazing to win and it was a huge honour to be named Player of the Game,” said Kate, “to be honest I wasn’t expecting that at all. Coming up here today we didn’t know what to expect.
“When you play within your own county you know the other teams, but then in Munster and the All-Ireland series, we didn’t know what to expect really.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be part of the panel and there are 30 girls there who all could have started and I am just so proud of them.
“I’m only 19, but we have a seriously young panel and it shows what we could possibly achieve in the coming years.
“We have loads of them playing U16 and minor and have won back-to-back minor counties so hopefully all this will lead to a bright future for the club,” concluded Kate.
Geraldine said it is far more nerve-wracking to be standing on the sideline that on the pitch in a big game like this.
“It was a great performance by them and they really played well from the word go. There was a lot of pressure on Katie Walsh in their team as she is their go-to person so we had a plan to try and stop her.
“At the other end Kate has been putting over scores for us, with the other forwards all year, and she was superb again today. Our keeper, Ava Carey, made a number of key saves as well and she has saved our bacon on more than one occasion this year.
“But I’d rather be on the pitch than watching, it’s awful to be there because there isn’t a lot you can do. It’s a different experience, but I really enjoyed coaching them all season and they got their reward today.”