It was a case of deja vu for Kilkenny in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final as the concession of a stoppage time point meant Cork would advance to the decider at the expense of their heartbroken opponents in Croke Park.
So often the root cause of despair for the 2020 All-Ireland champions over the last five years, Kilkenny will have the chance to defeat their fierce foes on the biggest day of them all on Sunday afternoon.
One player who has been imperative in helping Brian Dowling’s side get this far is Aoife Prendergast.
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The Dicksboro clubwoman was handed the captaincy at the start of the year following the town club’s county championship victory and has thrived in the role.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland final, a game you can hear live on KCLR from 4.15pm, Prendergast touched on the “great opportunity” that they now have, the defeat of Galway in the semi-final and the pain of last year’s last four loss to Cork.
She began: “We have a great opportunity ahead of us. It’s going to be a huge test but we are where we want to be and that’s the main thing for us.
“We want to be better than what we were in the semi-final against Galway. It’s no good looking back at the end of season and saying to ourselves ‘we didn’t turn up in the All-Ireland final.’ “
“There are big competitions for places to try and make the starting team and to also make an impact off the bench so training has been good and Sunday is the time to peak.”
On last month’s victory over Galway, she said: “There is a huge rivalry with ourselves and Galway. We’re both gunning for each other but what really drove our performance was the work we had done on the training ground before that game.
“We also had the quarter-final match with Dublin. That gave us a lot of momentum and we were able to look at what we need to improve on after that game. It certainly stood to us.”
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She continued: “There was huge disappointment last year.
“I think a lot of the girls bottled up that feeling in the semi-final and thought to themselves ‘we do not want to be in Croke Park again on All-Ireland semi-final day looking down at our boots.’ “
“We took that from last year and we have spoken about last year from time to time and we did not want that to happen again.
“The victory against Galway is worth nothing if we don’t win the All-Ireland. We have to be at our best to have any chance of winning this game because they are a superb team and they turn every game into a battle.
“We’ll do our research on them but we have to focus on ourselves and push on from where we are now because anything other than an our best won’t be good enough.”