THE MULLINAHONE LADIES team is uniquely composed of players from two different counties.
Mullinahone’s Molly Walsh [right] ahead of the All-Ireland final against St Jude’s.
Source: Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE
Situated about halfway between Clonmel and Kilkenny city, the village sits right alongside the border between the two counties. Its official address is in the Premier region. On the other side of that line, a short drive away into Kilkenny territory, is the village of Windgap.
Both clubs belong to hurling country.
But football has been progressing in Mullinahone and both localities have formed an unusual alliance over the years, allowing players from both sides of the fence to play both codes.
The longevity of that relationship has resulted in Mullinahone reaching the currentaccount.ie All-Ireland junior club final against St Jude’s of Dublin this Saturday.
The squad will that will contest the decider includes seven camogie players from Windgap.
“Yeah, I’m from Windgap,” Mullinahone defender Molly Walsh tells the media ahead of that showdown with St Jude’s in Baltinglass.
“I’ve been playing football over in Mullinahone since I was 10. I’m here long enough anyway. When I started playing football, Mullinahone was the closest football team to me, so that’s where I went. A few more of the girls have joined in the last few years. It’s brilliant.
“The football has been really getting going this year. We’ve been working away for years but this was the first year that we won a junior county final.
“It’s great to have Mullinahone to play football in because I would have had nowhere to play football in Windgap. It was only in primary school. I came over to Mullinahone then. There’s always been a few going over and back playing football there. We have a few playing camogie with us in Windgap.”
One of the Windgap seven that’s serving for Mullinahone is Kilkenny camogie star Denise Gaule. Gaule is a four-time All-Star in the small ball game, and was also crowned Camogie Association/WGPA Senior Players’ Player of the Year for the 2020 season.
A reliable free-taker for the Cats, Gaule converted a crucial last-minute penalty in the All-Ireland final that year which delivered a second O’Duffy Cup triumph for the county since 2016.
She’s a new recruit for the Mullinahone footballers, but Walsh says there’s been no struggle in making the transition.
“I’d say she’d adapt fairly quickly to anything she put her hand to,” Walsh says in praise of Gaule.
“She just came on board this year. The camogie finished up early. She was looking for a bit more to do. I’d be used to playing with her in Windgap.
“It’s probably good that we’re not in the same county. There’s not as much rivalry between each other. We all went out as one the other day. The supporters were brilliant. There were loads from Windgap and from Mullinahone.”
At the outset of the season, Mullinahone’s objective was to win the county final. They surpassed that goal by claiming Munster honours after defeating MKL Gaels of Kerry before earning a place in the All-Ireland final after getting the better of Galway’s St Brendan’s in last month’s semi-final.
A win over St Jude’s would be historic for Mullinahone and would make them the first Tipperary club to win an All-Ireland title at this grade.
“We’re delighted to be there,” says Walsh.
“It’s a Dublin team, they’d be much more known for their football than we would be down here. They will be a brilliant side, there’s no doubt about that.
“All the teams we’ve played are brilliant, all very close matches. [St] Brendans really put us under pressure, especially in the last few minutes.”
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