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Tom Byrne: ‘There are leaders all over that field’

Tom Byrne and Serge Goetelen beamed with delight when asked for their thoughts on Knockananna’s wonderful three-in-a-row of Senior camogie titles following their victory in the final over Kiltegan.

oth men are hugely passionate individuals and along with Angela Tallon and Lisa McDonald, a committed team of volunteers and a seriously talented group of players they have brought camogie in Knockananna to a whole new level.

Tom Byrne is never one to seek the limelight and questions in relation to his always heap the praise on their exploits and their natural leadership.

“It’s a sweet win. The girls deserve everything. They’re a great bunch. You can see it on the field, there are leaders all over that field. It probably went a little bit dead there for a while but when they got going, they passed the ball around and there were some fantastic scores,” said Tom not long after Rachel Byrne had hoisted the cup high into the air at Pearse’s Park.

Comparing teams and players is an activity that has gone on since the dawn of competitive sport but does Tom think that this Knockananna team are the best club team to have ever come out of Wicklow.

“I think so. I can’t think of another team. When they turn on the style they can really play,” said Tom.

“There’s no weak link in Knockananna,” added Serge. “We have some subs who can make a difference, and we have a big panel as well,” he added.

Tom says that there are difficulties to be endured and navigated at the top of the mountain, the same as there are everywhere else.

“It’s keeping everyone happy, it’s not easy. When they go out, everyone expects them to win by 20 and 30 points so there’s that pressure when things are not flowing the way they should be. But you can see, even the way they finished that game, they turned on the style there for five minutes.

“I think that actually drives us all (most people wanting you to lose). It gives us that little bit of extra motivation when everyone hates you, you try to go that little bit harder.

“Everyone tries to knock you down when you’re on top, that’s the way it should be. We’ve a great bunch at the moment and we’re just going to make hay while the going is good.

“They played some super games this year. I can’t think of a bad game they played. Kiltegan pushed us the most, but I think we scored 1-15 that day and 1-14 was from play.

“All year they’ve racked up some serious scores. And some of the scores have been fantastic,” he added.

Does he and Serge have a word for their players?

“I always tell them I’m so proud of them because they do it on the field. Myself or Serge don’t have to do that much on the line. They organise things on the field themselves. And you can see that they’re so successful with the football as well, and that helps us. They’re super fit. They’re passing around, that passing comes from the football, that off-the-shoulder passing,” said Tom.

“Three in a row is always sweet,” said Serge.

So, what next? Leinster is coming after a six-week break but most of the players will be battling for their eighth Wicklow LGFA Senior football crown this Saturday in Baltinglass.

“We have a six week break now and the girls are in the football final on Saturday, so we’ll give them the week off and then we’ll get back down to it,” said Tom.

“We got a bye into the Leinster semi-final so it’s one match (to get to a Leinster final) and who knows what can happen. We’re playing the winners of Offaly and Meath. I know the standard from last year will be that much higher, but I think we can rise to that standard. It’s one match to get to a Leinster final. The little bit of gap might be an issue but I think these girls are so used to that, hopefully we’ll get a practice match in before that as well,” he added.

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