Friday 30 September 2016

Kelly has no intention of retiring as Wexford target 'business end' of season

Daragh Ó Conchúir

Published 14/08/2015 | 02:30

Kate Kelly: Targeting more glory
Kate Kelly: Targeting more glory

Kate Kelly is one of the most decorated players in camogie history. Player of the Year in 2007 when she won the first of four All-Irelands, the Wexford maestro has picked up seven All-Stars throughout a stellar career.

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And the way things are going this summer, she could join Cork duo, Jenny O'Leary and Gemma O'Connor, on top of the all-time list.

What is notable about Kelly's All Star recognition is that two of the awards came before Wexford made their long-awaited return to the top table of camogie.

This is her 20th season of senior championship camogie and the 35-year-old got married last March. But there were absolutely no thoughts of hanging up the hurley.

"I'm happy I went back. I never forget the years that went before the good ones and the hard work we had to do," she says.

"I'd hate Wexford camogie to go back to that. I hope the younger crew that's coming through now will blend in a little bit before we go.

"Someone told me when the time is right to give up you'll know and that's what I've gone on. It never crossed my mind this winter but you do take it year by year. There's no point saying I'm not going to be there for the next 10 years. I'm not!

"It's all about keeping the work rate up and that's what I've been doing and I've been lucky enough to be on the end and getting scores this year. Other years, you might have been putting in the work, doing the hooks and blocks and you haven't been getting the scores.

"Saturday is another day. You're only as good as your last game and on Saturday evening that will be my last game. I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing again and I'm glad that I'm fit and able to do it."

The St Ibar's star has always been a leader and it surprised nobody that she was front and centre, and the inaugural treasurer, when the WGPA was launched.

She came into the county panel in 1996 but the momentum of reaching three of that decade's first four All-Ireland finals had been slowed by a failure to get their noses in front. There were many tough days, particularly at the beginning of the millennium.

It is why she doesn't get carried away by the glory of the three-in-a-row in particular, and why she didn't think of walking away when nobody would have questioned her right to do so in the past couple of seasons.

"They're the years I will cherish forever but there was a lot of work done before and after.

"I'm well able to ground myself and realise that they were special years. You do look back on them but I'm not getting stuck on the past yet. It's something I don't dwell on too much at the minute.

"Maybe in five or 10 years' time we'll sit back and realise what we achieved when we did but at the minute it just feels part of what we're doing, trying to achieve again.

"I know we haven't been in an All-Ireland since 2012 and when you say it now, it's hard to believe it was so long ago. It's gone by in a flash really."

Kelly was bred for the game. Her mother Peggy Doyle and aunt Mary won All-Irelands with Wexford in 1968 and 1969. Her four brothers have worn the yellow and purple at a variety of levels, while sister Mag joined her for the 2010 success, as well as the 2007 All-Ireland intermediate ladies football final loss to Leitrim.

Kelly's principles have always remained the same, as evidenced by her note of caution about the return from injury of Ursula Jacob and Karen Atkinson for tomorrow's Liberty Insurance All-Ireland senior semi-final against Galway at Nowlan Park (3.30pm).

"As long as people realise that we have to work just as hard. As long as they don't think that because we should be stronger with them back they can ease off the work rate. I don't think they will and it's a massive boost to have them back.

"I won't deny it takes longer to recover now but I don't feel that this year is any different than any other year.

"At some point of the year you do get fed up of training and that's not just this year's phenomenon.

"That's every year when you're doing it week after week after week.

"It's this time of the year you love, when you're down to the business end of the year, championship knockout games. You'd be looking forward to going training.

"I'm looking forward to the game and I think the girls are as well. This is where we wanted to be at this time of year and you'd be just hoping for that little bit of Lady Luck to come out on the right end of it."

The Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship semi-final between Wexford v Galway at Nowlan Park tomorrow (3.30) will be streamed live on the RTÉ Player

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