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'The Fact You Only Have Four Years Does Make It Extra Special'

'The Fact You Only Have Four Years Does Make It Extra Special'
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Siobhan McGrath says third level camogie has a distinct feel compared to its club and county counterparts. "It's still serious but there's a bit more of an enjoyment element to it," the Galway All-Ireland winner tells Balls.

"You're becoming best friends with people that you'd usually be competing against at county level. It's definitely different from everything else."

McGrath won an Electric Ireland Ashbourne Cup with the University of Limerick in 2020 during her first year studying PE. Three years on and she's now one of the leaders in the dressing room, and one of a handful remaining from the side which defeated UCC to win UL's fifth consecutive title.

"I don't think I said much in first year!" says McGrath.

"I just sat in the corner and didn't open my mouth. When you get to fourth year, you realise that you have to take on that bit of leadership, and try to bring everyone along. That's just a natural thing as you grow older. We have a load of leaders around, even girls in second and third year.

"The fourth year girls were on about it, it's so sad that you only have a short space of time to play it. You won't see some of these girls as much that you became so close to, and we'll never play with each other again - there's just no possibility of that happening. The fact that you only have those four years, it does make it extra special.

"It's definitely developed me a huge amount. The standard and intensity of the matches is right up there with a lot of inter-county matches. You're playing against top inter-county players.


"You're talking to girls about what they do in different counties, what they do to recover, and get ready for a match. You pick up little things.

"You're training under good management teams that you wouldn't have trained under before, picking up different drills that they might do.


"When I was in first and second year, especially, there were so many girls in third and fourth year who were doing PE as well. They were able to give me tips on what to look out for. It was so helpful. You might not have a clue otherwise. It definitely helps from an academic point of view."


siobhan mcgrath ul galway ashbourne cup camogie

17 December 2022; Siobhan McGrath of Sarsfields celebrates after the AIB All-Ireland Senior Camogie Club Championship Final match between Sarsfields of Galway and Loughgiel Shamrocks of Antrim at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

It has been a busy six months for McGrath. In July, Galway lost the All-Ireland semi-final to eventual champions Kilkenny. There followed a club campaign which saw her Sarsfields side win their fourth consecutive Galway senior camogie title, and then retain their All-Ireland crown with victory over Loughgiel Shamrocks in mid-December.


"There hasn't really been a break," says McGrath.

"It's grand when you're winning, and is easier to go back, but there hasn't been any break really. We played the All-Ireland club final on December 17th, and then had a challenge match with UL on December 28th.

"There were a few days there but you weren't doing much resting after that final! It's grand. I'll get a break after Ashbourne. I have an on-going injury with my foot.


"[It's been going on] for the last 14 months. It's a reoccurring stress fracture that is in my foot. It's hard to manage it when you're with so many different teams, between club, college, county.

"When you're part of successful teams, you're not getting much of a break either. You're getting to the business end of all the competitions. All the management teams are fairly good about it anyway - I might not do as much training."

siobhan mcgrath ul galway ashbourne cup camogie

12 September 2021; Galway players, from left, Sarah Spellman, Catriona Cormican and Siobhán McGrath celebrate after their victory in the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Final match between Cork and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Though there is a tear for the conclusion of her college camogie career, this year also sees the beginning of an exciting new chapter.

"This is my last year, so I'll be qualified this summer, and hopefully looking for a job somewhere," says McGrath.

"I really enjoyed my teaching practice. It's really enjoyable getting kids that don't necessarily have an interest in sport but want to be physically active.

"Some students might not play a sport outside of school but they might enjoy the games they're playing within school. Being so involved in sport, it made sense to go into something that you enjoy doing."

See Also: Rising Leitrim Star Has Put Pedal To The Metal In Sigerson Cup

siobhan mcgrath ul galway ashbourne cup camogie



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