Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers once sang that "The waiting is the hardest part". That was very much relevant to Orlaith McGrath and the modern-day Sarsfields camogie team. Their predecessors were steeped in success, but after coming so close to new-found All-Ireland glory on two occasions, in recent years, they finally tasted success at the third time of asking. At the center of that success was Orlaith McGrath who has since become a key player for the Galway team too. Now essential to her county's fortunes the Sarsfields star has cemented herself as one of the game's finest talents. This week we went ClubSpotting with Orlaith McGrath.
What are your earliest memories of your club Sarsfields?
My earliest memories with Sarsfields were our indoor under 8 training sessions in the Community Centre in New Inn during the winter months. I remember distinctly the huge numbers crowded into the center we had at every underage training session during the week. We used plastic hurls and sliotars indoors for a spell until we progressed to outdoor sessions as the weather improved. My Fondest memories too were playing in the underage tournaments in Mullagh every year for u10 level, which used to be seriously competitive. The tournament was my first taste of lining out for Sarsfields in a competitive nature and they’ve really stood out since.
Who were your sporting idols growing up?
I suppose we were fortunate enough growing up to have followed a successful Sarsfields hurling team who had won several county titles and 2 All Ireland Club Championships back to back. The players on that team would have been a huge inspiration, as we saw first hand their success with Sarsfields. Growing up following the Galway camogie team also, Ann Marie Hayes and Therese Maher were two great role models and definitely sporting idols of mine.
What has been the proudest moment of your sporting career?
The proudest moment of my sporting career has undoubtedly been our 2020 All Ireland Club Championship win with my club Sarsfields in Croke Park. This was a special win, as we had tried and failed many times previously to win that championship. It was made sweeter in the manner in which we won but also winning alongside family and close friends. It was definitely a nice reward for everyone involved in the club and underage teams who had put so much work into us growing up.
Toughest opponent you have faced?
Davina Tobin from Kilkenny.
Best player you have played with?
Niamh Kilkenny. She is an amazing player who makes it look very easy!
Any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
I wouldn’t be a superstitious person by any means, but I’d like to follow the same routine before most competitive games. I’d always like to go for a big breakfast out and fuel up, relax and ensure I have got some decent coffee before a game! I’d always like to make sure my gear bag is packed and gear is ready to go the night before.
How did it feel to win back the All-Ireland this year and how special are the team to work with?
Winning the All Ireland with Galway this year was an unbelievable feeling and achievement as a team. It was definitely an overwhelming sense of relief at the final whistle, as it was anyone's game right up to the final whistle. We were fortunate that a few breaks went our way in the end and we capitalised on them to see out the game. The nature of the win too was definitely satisfying for the whole team as it showed our character as a team. It definitely is a privilege to be part of a panel of players who push such great standards every year.
What are your hopes and ambitions for 2022?
I hope to remain injury free as a start! I’ve had ongoing trouble with a dislocated shoulder this past year which has disrupted both championships with Sarsfields and Galway unfortunately. As a club we hope to give the best account of ourselves in the upcoming All Ireland Club Championship Semi Final and improve as a team from last year’s lost All Ireland Club Final. We would hope and strive to make it back there. I hope to improve my game with Galway and build on last year’s success.
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