Maghera Scott talent so can relax ahead of All-Ireland final against Cats camogs
Corn Sceilge All-Ireland Senior A final: (Saturday, February 18, 2pm: St Peregrine's, Blanchardstown) Loreto, Kilkenny v St Patrick's, Maghera
ST PATRICK'S Maghera coach Catriona Scott feels that she is much more relaxed in her approach to All-Ireland finals than she may have been in the past.
Scott took up a PE post in Maghera a few days before she ruled midfield as Antrim won the 1997 All-Ireland Junior title. The school before and since has been regular winners at provincial level and challenging for the breakthrough All-Ireland.
"In the early years I think I was a bit like all young coaches. I was pushing to win everything in front of me. But over the years you become a bit more measured in how you prepare the teams. You want them to go into a game in a relaxed frame of mind so that they can hopefully produce their best performances individually and collectively."
Maghera have two teams through to All-Ireland finals over the past fortnight. The seniors play Loreto Kilkenny this Saturday, while the juniors (under 16s) will face either Kilkenny or Coláiste Choilm Ballincollig at the start of March. It is twelve years since they last contested a final at either level.
"To be honest, we saw this coming. Bronach Quigg, who looks after the juniors, told me a couple of years ago that the group she was handing over was All-Ireland material and then her own team this year was just excellent in Ulster.
"I must say that there has been excellent work done in the clubs and the players are coming in with a full skills set.
"It can be very hard to get clear of opponents in games in Ulster. The north Antrim schools know our team and we know them. So games can be very tight.
"I think we were a little underestimated because of our performances in Ulster. But you have to remember that those games in January were our first games together as a team.
"We maybe trained with 11 or 12 at times because others were with other teams. The clubs had them a lot before Christmas and the Juniors were flat out in their competition. We always knew we would be using some of the Juniors in the senior team. But we played the league before Christmas without them."
Over Christmas both teams went on a training weekend to Dublin where the Juniors played Naas in Abbottstown and the seniors took on the Meath senior team.
"We were very encouraged by those games. The Meath manager was blown away by the quality of player we had in the senior team. Hearing that certainly gave us a lift ahead of the Ulster semi-final.
"But that game was the first competitive game that we had the team we wanted out. I think we have improved in each of the three games we have played over the last month."
The last of those games was against defending All-Ireland champions Presentation Athenry in Swatragh. They went three points down in the opening ten minutes.
"To be honest, I didn't even notice that we were behind," said Scott. "There was no sense of panic in the team and we were not panicking on the side-line.
"We were playing against the breeze and playing well and you want to get to half-time leaving yourself in the game with a good chance of winning it."
By half-time the teams were level at 0-4 each and ten minutes into the second half, Maghera had struck for home with a lead of 2-6 to 0-4.
"It was great to get ahead early in the second half, but really at this level a goal can come quick, change the momentum of a game and before you know there is a second goal against you.
"But, yes, it was great to get that cushion if you like and have something to defend.
"Athenry were shocked by our performance. They told us that we are good enough to beat Kilkenny and we know we are too.