Ursula Jacob thinks Waterford reaching Sunday's Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor A final is another signpost to the Deise becoming a serious camogie force.
Last month, Waterford defeated Kilkenny to reach the county's first ever top tier minor final. It's a very different experience for this weekend's opponents Cork, the reigning All-Ireland champions.
"Going into this weekend's final, Cork probably have all the experience of playing in finals. They've kind of dominated the minor scene the last number of years," Wexford camogie legend Jacob told Balls.
"For Waterford, this will be the first time a lot of these girls will be playing in an All-Ireland final, and it is a big deal. It's going to be streamed. It's going to be in a pitch like Nowlan Park. That all adds to the occasion.
"You kind of forget that you're so young still that it can be a huge learning curve for a young player because a final is different than every other day.
"I remember our [minor] management team at the time saying to us [in 2000], 'Enjoy the occasion' because sometimes we let the nerves get to us.
"One thing that I've always tried to adopt as a player, and I'd say it to any young player, is to embrace the nerves and embrace the occasion but just don't let it overwhelm you or take over from the whole purpose of why you're being there. For Waterford and Cork this weekend, it's to win that game."
For Waterford's up-and-coming players, this is an exciting time to be on the verge of senior level. Last weekend, Sean Power's Waterford seniors defeated Cork in the Munster quarter-final, adding to their mid-April victory over Wexford in the National Camogie League Division 1B final.
"When you're a young player and you're looking at the likes of Lorraine Bray, Beth Carton, Niamh Rockett and Abby Flynn and all these girls excelling at that level, that's where you as a young player, you have that same ambition then that you want to be like your hero or your role model," said Jacob.
"When I was at minor level and we were in that All-Ireland final, we didn't really have a senior team that was doing so well.
"Wexford camogie wasn't really strong at that time, so you were kind of very much relying on yourself to kind of be that motivation or to kind of bring Wexford to the next level.
"These Waterford girls have role models to look up to. When I was that age, you were looking for guidance and leadership and even a kind word of support or whatever. I've no doubt that a lot of those senior players will be supporting the girls on the weekend as well.
"Waterford camogie in general is on a high at the moment. I think big things are going to come from Waterford camogie in the next couple of years.
"The development of camogie in Waterford, I've watched it closely the last number of years, and I think there's a massive amount of work being done, and it's now starting to pay off on the field of play, and that's why you're reaching a minor final, that's why you're winning the Division 1B title."
Even prior to this year's success, Waterford were making inroads. Last year, the county reached its first All-Ireland senior semi-final in decades.
"It all happened completely by accident."
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— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) April 25, 2023
"We're all so used to hearing the Cork, Kilkenny, Galway debate," said Jacob.
"Tipp were considered the fourth team for the last number of years. For me, at the moment, Waterford have pushed ahead of Tipperary.
"Last year, looking at the All-Ireland semi-final against Cork, I think the little bit of inexperience for Waterford at that stage probably cost them in the second half.
"I think Sean Power and his management team have come in this year and have probably raised the bar again. I think the girls are playing probably with that greater level of confidence. I really think they're going to be a force in this year's championship. I expect they'll top the group.
"I think they will come through unbeaten in the group stages, and then that will push them forward to the quarter-final stage. I think they'll learn a lot from last year's defeat against Cork. I think the panel and team is probably stronger this year as well.
"When players are playing with that greater level of confidence and they're learning from maybe mistakes they made last year or where they could improve on and then when a new management team comes in as well, that can add to the whole panel as well.
"I'm really excited by this Waterford team, and I'm not just saying it, I would have said it even after last year. I think Waterford could have easily won that semi-final against Cork, and they're not that far off it.
"I think they're going to be pushing to be a top three team this year. At the very least, I expect that Waterford will get back into a semi-final. That might be me being overly optimistic but I think they're good enough to be at least in a semi-final again, and possibly even then a final."
"Beating two Tipp teams. Brilliant!"
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— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) April 23, 2023
For all young camogie players coming through now, not just those involved in this weekend's minor finals, this is an exciting time. Team setups at underage and senior levels are more professional than ever, while media coverage is also increasing.
"Oh my God, I would have loved it," said Jacob when asked if she'd like to be starting her camogie career right now, "because you speak about strength and conditioning and all of that - that was nonexistent [for us].
"Even in the last couple of years of me playing senior with Wexford, it was basic enough. We had a professional setup, but it was so much more basic than what it is now. It's now going down to minor, under 16 level where you've got that kind of professional set up.
"The standards are high - it's expected from the players and management. It's not just, rock up the training and then play a match at the weekend. There's serious work gone into these teams.
"The coverage and everything has just added to the interest of the competition as well because you're getting to see the results, the pictures leading up to the game.
"You get to know the players as well. It's not just Cork vs Waterford, you get to know the main players as well. It's so important that we invest the kind of time and interest in this age group as well because they are the future."
Electric Ireland Camogie Minor All-Ireland Championships Finals Fixtures
Saturday, 6th May: Electric Ireland Camogie Minor C All-Ireland Championship Final: Down v Kerry at Clane GAA, Co. Kildare, 2.00pm
Sunday, 7th May: Electric Ireland Camogie Minor A Shield All-Ireland Championship Final: Antrim v Limerick at UPMC Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, 2.30pm
Sunday, 7th May: Electric Ireland Camogie Minor B All-Ireland Championship Final: Laois v Roscommon at St. Brendan’s Park, Birr, Co. Offaly, 3pm
Sunday, 7th May: Electric Ireland Camogie Minor A All-Ireland Championship Final: Cork v Waterford at UPMC Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, 4.30pm
Electric Ireland will be livestreaming the Electric Ireland Camogie Minor A, A Shield, B and C All-Ireland Championships finals on https://www.electricireland.ie/camogie-minor-championships with live clips being shared across Electric Ireland’s Twitter channel @ElectricIreland over the weekend.