Raharney manager Padraic Connaughton. PHOTO: INPHO/TOM MAHER

‘We’ll need to improve for the final’ – Connaughton

Just a week after their 36-point demolition of Celbridge in the Leinster final, Raharney’s camogie ladies were put to the pin of their collars to edge past Derry representatives Glen in last Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final. Accordingly, the winning manager Padraic Connaughton was a relieved man when he spoke to the media in Abbottstown after the game.

When it was initially put to him that it had been ‘a tough battle’, he responded: “Yeah, that sums it up well. I think you saw a different side to us today. You saw our skill and our pace last week, but today you saw our mental toughness.

“I’m always honest about our displays and I thought we were average today. But we were mentally tough, particularly in the fourth quarter, as we needed to be in other matches earlier this year. We’ll need to improve for the final, but we will improve.”

Last week’s standout players in blue had been almost exclusively in attack, but the bainisteoir accepted that his defenders had excelled against the Ulster champions, stating: “Jade (McKeogh) was brilliant, as were Katie (Coleman) and Mary (Geraghty), but the backs had to be good today. We waited for the ball and we handed a lot of ball to Glen.

“We were a bit nervous today, a bit hesitant. This was strange as we had been here before in a semi-final.”

With word filtering through from Ennis that Glenmaurice would be facing the Deelsiders in the final in early January, Connaughton was asked if he would be seeking revenge for the 2019 loss in the decider to the Kerry girls.

“Revenge is a strong word and I don’t go through life with revenge on my mind, but I am thrilled to get into the final again,” he replied. “This is dream stuff for Raharney.

“We’ll be better prepared physically and mentally for the final. Maria (Kelly) pulled a quad in the warm-up for the Leinster final and had to come off today, and I hope she’ll be OK.

“We’ll have Fiona (Leavy) back (she was married on the day of the provincial final) and Megan Carroll is back from the UK. So we’ll have a strong squad to pick from.”

He concluded as follows: “We’ll have a quiet Christmas, but we’ll enjoy it. We’re going training on St Stephen’s morning. It’s in their diaries now and they’re looking forward to it.”