NINE months ago, I had a chat with Inniscarra’s Niamh McCarthy.
She had a great story to tell.
Having suffered three cruciate injuries, two of which required an operation, she had just received a call to join Paudie Murray’s extended panel.
Nine months later she’ll line out in Croke Park, a key member of Cork’s senior team.
It’s something Niamh finds hard to take in herself.
"I thought I’d be playing intermediate and not even on the senior panel," Niamh McCarthy said.
"I was more nervous at first about going up training and not knowing many of the girls than I was about playing.
"I never expected the intermediates and the seniors to be training together so that helped.
"I didn’t know what team I was going to be on until they split the panels.
"During the league, he (Paudie) tried out new players.
"I thought a lot of the players he brought on were doing well and there were still players to come back like Pam Mackey, Julia White, Orla (Cotter) was out and so was Hannah (Looney) so I thought I was just making up the numbers.
"I wouldn’t be full of confidence in myself anyway and I really didn’t expect to be starting."
But start Niamh did, in every championship game, except for the final group game against Offaly which she sat out due to a hand injury.
Does Niamh feel she has acquitted herself well?
"I feel there’s less pressure on me than there would be in a club game and that might be weird but it’s just that this is my first year and no one expected anything of me, least of all myself," she laughs.
"Going into the semi-final, because I’m typically very nervous, I was thinking to myself 'What have I got to lose, like absolutely nothing. Out of everyone there, two years ago I didn’t even think I’d be playing club (referring to her injuries). So, I have nothing to lose."
Does that mean she is pleased with her performances?
"Eh, I know I could do better and I still feel I haven’t peaked.
"I still think there’s a lot of improvement there and I can do better than I have been doing.
"Some matches I didn’t think I played well at all. I expected more of myself.
"When you come from playing club where you’re a key player and you go into an environment where everyone is so strong and the player you’re marking has won All Stars, you’re thinking, what the hell."
At 21 years of age Niamh will run out as a player in her first All-Ireland senior final. Is she nervous?
"I’m not nervous yet. Obviously, I will be nervous, it’s my first All-Ireland. I have no idea yet though if I’ll be playing, of what the team will be. But I’m really enjoying Cork. I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would."