'Mammy Roche' relishes Gailltír's trip to Croke Park
The youngsters call her 'Mammy Roche' and she is happy to play along. After all, Emma Roche has coached many of them.
Such has been their influence that the Gailltír team that will play Clonduff in the AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club camogie final at Croke Park on Sunday is much changed from that which lost to Eglish by just a point two years ago in an All-Ireland semi-final.
A number of them played as the Ursulines of Waterford city completed a remarkable All-Ireland Senior 'B'/Junior 'A' Post-Primary Schools double last year. Indeed there is a strong representation on the team that was due to pursue Senior 'A' honours this week only for the Gailltír feats to necessitate a rescheduling.
"There's nine or 10 of them involved in the team now, ranging from fourth years to sixth years," Roche explains. "There's a good few of them doing their Leaving Cert but they're all fierce committed - to club, to county and school. They bring their own little ingredient to the club. I dunno would you call it a sort of cockiness.
"I'm a completely mammy. I'm the oldest on the team at 31 but I love the fact they can approach me, if they want to ask me a question on or off the field, whether it's sport-related or life-related. They can ask me anything. I'm black and white, and I'll give it to them straight up.
"A lot of the U-18s and U-19s, I coached them back in 2013 and 2014 for the Féile. I'd say, 'In a couple of years' time you're going to be playing senior with me and ye can give it back to me then, the hardship I'm after putting ye through.' Back then they weren't laughing but now we have the craic about it. It's brilliant to be playing alongside those talented girls.
"I'm going to enjoy the run-up to Croke Park," Roche says. "And that's what we're telling the younger girls. Don't take this for granted."
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