Oulart face the acid test
Published 30/01/2016 | 00:00
If one is for history, a second is for validation, then a third is for legacy. These Oulart-The Ballagh players are two steps from their legacy being triple All-Ireland Club camogie championship winners.
For every young girl that picks up a hurl around the county, the Oulart-The Ballagh reality is their ultimate dream. The Leinster champions now face Cork side Milford at Carriganore on Sunday (2.30 p.m.) in a bid to continue to inspire.
Undoubtedly 2015 was a great year for Oulart-The Ballagh, great but strange nonetheless. It started in stunning fashion, with the second national crown in four years, but ended with a stuttering county final replay win over Rathnure and a miraculous come-from-behind Leinster final victory against St. Vincent's of Dublin.
Will the real Oulart-The Ballagh appear in time for this Sunday's last four clash against the side which won back-to-back All-Irelands between the Wexford club's pair? They probably couldn't answer that question themselves, but what is for certain is that they still have most of the components that saw them hit those dizzying heights.
The All Stars are still in situ; Ursula Jacob, Mary Leacy and even Una Leacy is pushing for a return from a knee ligament injury, although to expect much if she does play some part is folly given the short time she has been back in light training and the severity of her injury.
The reliables are there - Karen Atkinson, Stacey Redmond, the Kehoe twins, Diane Ryan, Shauna and Louise Sinnott - and can all be counted on for a performance. But it's elsewhere that Oulart-The Ballagh need a little more.
The youngsters have been thrust into the big time for Oulart-The Ballagh in the last few months and they have shown in patches what they are capable of. Brídin and Shauna Redmond, plus the Katies, Murphy and Gallagher, have all played their part but one of them might need to be the heroine if their side is to head to Croke Park on March 6..
In the battle to face either Loughgiel Shamrocks of Antrim or Galway club Killimor, Oulart-The Ballagh otherwise have a clean bill of health. They know how to peak at the right time and reports from training suggest they are ready for the challenge.
Milford know what this type of occasion is all about. They announced themselves on the scene when racing into a 1-12 to nil lead against the then All-Ireland champions in Oulart in 2013. They won that championship and retained it the following year.
In the Munster final the Rebel women butchered Newmarket-on-Fergus by 5-18 to 1-9. They boast several players who have been in and around the county set-up, with dynamic midfielder Aisling Thompson and Anna Geary their most recognisable stars.
Three years have passed since the Cork side embarrassed Oulart-The Ballagh on their own patch, and this is the chance to put that horror show to bed, a chance for redemption and to create their legacy. Oulart-The Ballagh can pull it off but expect there to be little in it at the full-time whistle.