Saturday 21 April 2018

Double challenge drives Neville ahead of 'huge opportunity' for Cork

Cork's Finola Neville. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile
Cork's Finola Neville. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile

Daragh Ó Conchúir

Finola Neville possesses two All-Ireland medals but has an opportunity to double that tally in the space of around three-and-a-half hours on Sunday.

Neville has garnered two precious mementoes as a result of being a member of the Cork senior camogie panel in the past couple of seasons and, once again, is part of the squad that will be bidding for a three-in-a-row in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship final at Croke Park.

By the time Éamon Cassidy throws in the sliotar at 4pm, however, the 23-year-old will have played in the Intermediate decider and the prospect of winning a medal on the most famous of Gaelic Games fields is a mouthwatering one. "It's a lot sweeter if you're playing," agrees Neville.

"You don't have control over that of course and it's an honour to be involved at all with All-Ireland-winning teams but playing is where you want to be, you want to be on the pitch and contributing that way. So it would be special.

"It's an honour any day you put on a red jersey for Cork. Obviously you want to be playing at the highest level you're capable of but any day you're playing for Cork, be it Senior or Intermediate, it's a huge honour for myself and for my club to be representing them.

"Any athlete who is competitive in any way will want to be on the first team. I think that's just natural for any sportsperson, to want to be at the top. But you take what comes and the year this year with the Intermediates has been unbelievable and I wouldn't change it for the world.

"It's a huge opportunity and that has made it a bit easier not being on the Senior team to be in the Intermediate final this year. If you told me at the start of the year we'd be in Croke Park in the Intermediate final, you'd take that."

Not that it has occurred by accident. "Last year we got beaten in the semi-final above in Nowlan Park and that was a huge disappointment.

"From the get-go this year, that was our target, to go a step further and take it to Croke Park, to get to the All-Ireland final. We would have felt we let ourselves down last year so it was a big goal."

Having to turn around and be prepared for a possible introduction to the fray in the Senior game afterwards will provide a mental challenge regardless of the result.

There will be a physical one too, although having just graduated from IT Carlow after four years studying sports rehab and athletic therapy, and working at Avondhu Physiotherapy in Fermoy, Neville is well placed to deal with that.

"You take the first game as it comes and deal with that, and then worry about whatever comes after that" is her approach to the circumstances facing almost 10 Cork players.

The St Catherine's attacker is fully cognisant of the challenge faced by Paudie Murray's crew, with Kilkenny racking up 17-69 at an average of 3-15 a game.

Cork have been nowhere near as productive but their game plan is centred on making it more difficult for opposition teams to score. "It will be a good challenge for us and we're looking forward to that."

Irish Independent

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