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Heartbroken Downey Glad To Leave Kilkenny In A Good Place

Heartbroken Downey Glad To Leave Kilkenny In A Good Place

After four years guiding the Kilkenny camogie team, Ann Downey stepped down as manager following her side's defeat in last month's All-Ireland final against Galway.

Downey led Kilkenny to the title 2016 but subsequently lost the next three All-Ireland deciders.

"You never say never," she said at the launch of the AIB Camogie Club Championships about a possible return to management at some stage.

Because I suppose my biggest problem is I'm not able to say no. I've done a few training sessions since the All-Ireland. I was down in Wexford and there's medals to be presented and stuff like that. But at the moment, I'm trying to take a break if that's possible.

It won't really hit me I suppose until January. Not that I haven't been thinking about it - I have. I'm trying to put it out of my mind. When they get back and when I'm not making preparations for a new season, then it will sink in.

I stopped playing in I think it was '99. Then I got involved with a hurling club, then I got involved in camogie, then I got involved in another hurling club, then I went back to camogie, then I got involved in another hurling club in 2016.

I've always been doing something since I retired from playing myself.

Following the 2017 All-Ireland final defeat, a group of Kilkenny players visited Downey's home looking to ensure that she would stay on. That was a gesture she was glad to see. At that time, she was unsure of her plans.

Former All-Ireland winning St Paul’s and Lisdowney camogie player and former Kilkenny camogie manager Ann Downey poses for a portrait at the launch of the AIB Camogie and Club Championships. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

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She again considered stepping away in late 2018 but after coach Paddy Mullally left the backroom team to join the Mullinavat hurlers, Downey decided to stat to ensure a smooth transition to the next regime.

The new management team will be headed for former Kilkenny hurler Brian Dowling, who was this year a selector.

"I knew then it was going to be a challenge to get Paddy replaced," said Downey.

"I didn't want to step away from camogie in Kilkenny and leave the job to the county board to get someone. I knew I'd probably have a better chance of getting someone myself.

"When I got Brian Dowling, Brian was brilliant, the girls really loved him. He's so different say to Paddy.

"The morning of the [2019] All-Ireland, I said whichever way it goes, I think if I step away it will be in good hands.

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"We had the connection to bring in someone else. I made the phonecall to Tommy Shefflin to know would he be interested. When Tommy said he would, I was really happy then with my own decision; that I was going to step away.

"I just felt I couldn't say any more to the girls. Everything had been put in place. As I said, we have a great backroom team. We never had a doctor until I came on board in 2016; Dr Martin O'Brien came in with us.

"The girls were just so professional. There's only so much you can say to girls, they were probably sick listening to me so Brian is a fresh voice. And Tommy Shefflin certainly brings something new to the table as well.

"Heartbroken that I have to leave camogie behind me for the moment but happy that it's in a good place."

Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

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