GAA

Gribben: Clonduff County Contingent Looking To Recycle Croke Park Pain

Gribben: Clonduff County Contingent Looking To Recycle Croke Park Pain

Its been nigh on six months since a dejected Paula Gribben watched from the Croke Park turf alongside her Down Camóg teammates, as opponents Cork climbed the famous steps to collect their All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie winners medals.

On Sunday, she will return to HQ in order to right that particular wrong, but this time she'll be adorning the gold of club side Clonduff.

September's heartache has very much been to the forefront of Gribben's mind in the build-up to this weekend's AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club Camogie final. It's something that she and the rake of Clonduff representatives on-county duty that day are hoping to channel into something positive when they face Waterford and Munster champions Gailltír.

"The last time there with the county we had a bad day at the office. It comes down to how we use that", the midfielder surmised.

We had ten players on that panel - we have a wealth of experience, but we also have a lot of youth on our team as well. That mixture, coming into Croke Park isn’t a bad thing to have. Hopefully our experienced players can pass on a bit of knowledge to our younger players. We’re looking for a different outcome this time around than we had last time.

Paula Gribben, Clonduff

The girls from the Mourne County are back in an Intermediate final four years after losing out at the semi-final stage to eventual 2015 victors Piltown of Kilkenny, but Gribben, who is married to Down Senior Football star Darren O'Hagan, feels that Ulster sides have had a real fillip having seen Slaughtneil blaze a trail over recent seasons at senior level.

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Years ago, you thought that county teams down south had that edge on you, and sometimes, self belief was lacking in Ulster teams but if you look at Slaughtneil - they’ve proved it to everybody that, at club level at least, you are as good as them whenever you do come over the border.

With counterpart Ciara Dunne revealing that the Gailltír contingent had enlisted the help of former Waterford manager and Sunday Game pundit Derek McGrath in the lead-up to the decider, Gribben was able to let us in on another familiar hurling face who made an appearance on a recent training weekend.

We were away at a training weekend there about a week ago and Neil McManus took a session for us and then he was speaking to us afterwards.

He highlighted, especially to the younger ones, ‘girls, at the minute, you think you’re living your glory days but after another very few days, you’re going to realise that these kinds of days don’t come too frequently - so make the most of it and if you’re on the losing side - nobody really remembers that you got there.'

Everybody’s saying at the minute - oh it’s a great achievement that you got this far but, within the team, we realise it is, but we’re here to win it.

Having rallied to overcome Craughwell of Galway in last month's semi-final, the PE teacher and her cohorts are aiming to take home a trophy to a GAA-mad parish, with emotions in the village running very high.

"This will be the first Clonduff senior team ever to play in Croke Park. You have grown men there telling you that they’ll have a tear in the eye when you’re coming on out on the pitch. When somebody like that says that to you, who you didn’t even realise followed the camogie - you realise, God, we are doing something massive here."

There is probably around 1600 people in the parish, and the club is again the central meeting point for everybody. You’ve people and families that would move in from outside, and they can’t get over the sense of community from the GAA club when they take their children down.

Paula Gribben of Clonduff was speaking ahead of the AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club Camogie Final between Gailltír (Waterford) and Clonduff (Down). The two sides will meet each other this Sunday, March 3rd at Croke Park with a 1.30 p.m. throw in.

SEE ALSO: McGrath Advice Stirs The Prodigal Daughters Of Gailltír Ahead Of Final

Aaron Strain

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