Cosgrove on a quick learning curve after a busy few months

Niamh Cosgrove was part of the Antrim team which won the All-Ireland intermediate championship in 2021                                                                      Picture: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

NIAMH Cosgrove was up early on Sunday morning and off to the Dub to represent Antrim seniors in a challenge game against Dublin with no hint of the emotionally-draining Saturday that preceded it.

Cosgrove is the manager of the St Killian’s Garron Tower team that collected the school’s first ever All-Ireland camogie title on Saturday afternoon in Templeport in County Cavan, beating Seamount College from Galway by 5-14 to 2-8.

“You know that we beat Dublin on Sunday by 5-14 to 0-10, more or less the same score-line as Saturday!” Antrim’s All-Ireland Intermediate winning full-back won’t forget scorelines like that in a hurry.

Since winning her own All-Ireland title with the Saffrons in Croke Park in September, Cosgrove has been a busy woman. She began a temporary year post for PE in St Killian’s the same month and was immediately put in charge of the camogie teams. Club camogie occupied her for the rest of the autumn and then there was her wedding at the end of December.

“Yes, it was busy enough period particularly in camogie. Some days you were taking training after school and then heading off to play or train with Ballycastle. Later on when we went out of the club championship I was back doing gym sessions after school trainings or games.

“We had planned the wedding for December 30th knowing that it would definitely be out of the camogie season. I didn’t realise at that point that I would be in charge of the school teams and that they would be going so well.

“We had school training over Christmas and there was even a session on the day of the wedding.”

Niamh hastens to add that she did not actually take the training that day, nor a couple of others that week.

“I was lucky that Maureen and Skinner (Fergus) McAlister came in to help me with the team and they were there right along and we had a few other parents taking sessions here and there and that was a great help.

“Starting a new job is always a big change. But there is just as much responsibility when you are entrusted with looking after a group of players that have a lot of potential.

“The under-age teams in Cushendall have been exceptional over the last few years and then when you throw in a few from Glenravel, there was the expectation that you could go beyond Ulster.

“You do feel exhausted at times, but the girls drive you on. They are enthusiastic and good trainers and, when you keep winning, it is easy for me to keep going.”

St Killian’s won both the Ulster senior and junior crowns, the first time they had won both in the same year. Both teams then won All-Ireland quarter-finals before the seniors bowed out in the All-Ireland semi-final beaten in Tipperary by Scoil Phbail Roscrea by a single point.

“That maybe was one that got away, one we could have won. But I haven’t had time to think much about it with the junior semi-final the following Saturday in Cushendun.”

St Killian’s won that semi-final against Limerick and Munster champions Hazelwood College by 1-10 to 1-4 to set up Saturday’s final in Templeport.

“I knew by this stage that it would take a good team to beat us. We didn’t start well on Saturday, but I knew we had another gear or two in us. I was a little worried coming up to half-time when they closed the gap to three points, but then Clodagh (McPeake) scored the two goals and we pulled away.”

Just because the school has won an All-Ireland title doesn’t mean that the manager gets a break before the next challenge.

“We should have had the under 14s running before now. In fact they were due a game this week. I will probably have a meeting on Tuesday, get them out training and see what they are like.

“I am looking forward to seeing them. I don’t teach anyone in Key Stage Three apart from a couple who were on the junior panel. They are all new to me. But I am sure they are all raring to go after Saturday. I know I am.”

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