Sport GAA

Sunday 11 December 2016

Club success fuels Power's appetite for atonement with Kilkenny

Daragh Ó Conchúir

Published 26/06/2015 | 02:30

Kilkenny's Katie Power
Kilkenny's Katie Power

Trading eye-watering sums of other people's money tends to give a person some perspective. That doesn't mean a camogie match isn't a big deal though.

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Elite performers in sport operate in their own bubble of pressure, placed on themselves because it is important and they strive to be the best.

The high-octane pressure of being a portfolio associate with State Street in Kilkenny is just different pressure for Katie Power, and the 23-year-old loves it.

"It's completely different than working in any other kind of accountants," reveals Power of the job she started two months ago. "It's so busy and you're working to a deadline. There are two or three deadlines every day and if you don't meet those deadlines you're…"

There's a pause as she looks for another phrase to replace the one you know is in her head.

"… you're in a bad way then."

Power wants to be challenged. After Piltown won the All-Ireland intermediate club title last March, one of the team's young stars, Kellyann Doyle spoke of the inspiration Power provided by virtue of her leadership, professionalism and constant quest for improvement.

Power understands the importance of role models. Her first helmet was a Cooper, as worn by DJ Carey. The feats of Sinead Millea and Ann Downey in the Black and Amber resonated on a more personal level again. She was lucky enough to play with Millea at the end of the former's career and had the latter as manager when the Cats reached the 2009 All-Ireland.

Missed

On a broader level, her admiration for Katie Taylor is total but right now, team-mate Áine Connery might just be top of the tree, having performed magnificently as Ireland missed out on qualifying for the Olympics in a penalty shootout in Valencia last week.

"She's some athlete. She was training a bit with us, although the hockey crowd didn't know that. She puts everything into every sport. She wants to give 100pc to everything. But she had to obviously commit to the hockey coming up to this competition. It will be great to have her back.

"You'd be proud of her. She done fair well over there, she played class. They were so close. It was a pity for the team because I'd say they put in huge effort and started off so well. It was unfortunate they couldn't finish it out."

Power has endured her own agonies, losing three senior All-Ireland finals but has won five more at underage level. Then there was the Piltown success on an unforgettable day that ended with bonfires lit and a Garda escort into the village, where 250 people descended into the night to greet them.

"It was unreal. You read about people winning All-Irelands with the club. As much as you dream of it happening, you don't really picture yourself there. When it happens, you don't believe it. To taste success up in Croke Park and going back into the county and the girls asking you what it's like. It actually makes you more hungry to win with them for what we've come through together the last couple of years."

With every team harbouring the same aims of getting their hands on the O'Duffy Cup, Power understands that no team is owed anything. Losing two consecutive All-Irelands is no guarantee of glory the next year.

"What happened last year and the year before… especially last year, for some reason, it took a lot out of us for a long while. There's no point in dwelling on it. As much as we'd love to go back and change it, we can't. It's in the past so we're trying to concentrate on the present and get performances out of ourselves so we can make the knockout stages."

They got the Liberty Insurance Championship off to the perfect start with victory over a much-improved Dublin unit this year. Next up are Clare in Freshford tomorrow. The Bannerwomen are short a lot of players but Kilkenny are down Elaine Aylward, Leann Fennelly, Shelley Farrell, Claire Phelan, Mairead Power and Connery.

The consensus is that Fintan Deegan's team have the easiest assignment of the so-called Top Four in Group 2 but no-one in the Kilkenny camp is thinking like that.

"People are saying we're expected to come out of it. That brings a bit of unneeded pressure as well. The likes of Clare; they're around the top three or four as well. There's nothing between us and them. To go up to Derry, to go up to Dublin. Tipp are an up-and-coming team. They only lost to Cork by a point (in the Munster final).

"So maybe the other group has the bigger names but I consider all our matches just as difficult as their matches. They are definitely every bit as important."

"We're just trying to concentrate on ourselves, not trying to concentrate on what anyone is saying about it. We don't care how much we win a game, whether it's a point or 10 points. We just want to win the game. That's the most important thing. People can say whatever they want about you after that. We just want to try and top our group, or win as many games as we can."

Irish Independent

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