(Former Galway camogie player)
In 1996, Denise Gilligan picked up the player of the match award for her performance in the All-Ireland camogie final. The wing-forward scored two goals as Galway were crowned champions.
Fifteen years later, Galway are back in the final looking to win their first All-Ireland since that day Gilligan shone for them. And she believes that this could finally be their year after last year's defeat to today's opponents Wexford.
"I think they are in their best position ever to win it again," says Gilligan. "I think the experience of being in Croke Park last year plus with the likes of Killimor being there earlier this year in the club championship and them having a few girls on the panel will stand to them against Wexford today.
"And I'd love to see them do it especially for the likes of Veronica Curtin and Therese Maher who have given the county so many years of service."
Remarkably, Gilligan joined the Galway minor panel at just 12 years of age, and the side lost three consecutive All-Ireland finals to Tipperary before they eventually beat their rivals in the final in 1994. That same year she also won a junior All-Ireland title.
Although Gilligan was very young when she started representing her county, she believes that she was ready for the challenge.
"I think if you are good enough then you are old enough.
"The only problem is that you are expected to train with the minor team, the senior team, the club and the school so burn-out can be an issue."
The talented player made her senior debut in 1995 and went on to play for Galway for almost a decade, winning a National League title in 2002 in which she scored 1-2 in the final. Her greatest memories of her those days are of lining out in Croke Park and that 1996 homecoming.
She moved to London in 2008, where she works as a sales rep for an educational company and plays for the Tara Camogie Club.
They have won their senior championship for the last three years and Gilligan captained the team for two of those victories.
"The standard of camogie is very high in London," she says. "Lots of the girls that are here would be playing for their county if they were at home.
"The biggest challenge we face is funding, it's always an issue for us over here."
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