26 Sept 2022

Katy cherishes latest Steelstown Championship win after nightmare injury

Steelstown Ladies

Katy Holly in action against Ballymaguigan in Sunday’s final at Glen. Pics by Cathal McOscar.

This year’s Derry Senior title win may well have been the most special of Katy Holly’s career so far, after suffering an injury which she feared would prevent her from ever playing at the top level again.

Watching on from the sidelines as her team mates beat Ballinascreen to claim back-to-back titles last October, Katy feared that the ACL injury that ruled her out, would mean she wouldn’t get to experience such moments with her friends ever again.

It meant a lot of hard and lonely work in the gym over several months, but Katy eventually dispelled those fears and was a key part of the team which defeated Ballymaguigan on Sunday to make in an historic three in-a-row for the girls from Steelstown. It was a special, special moment for Katy.

“It's unreal because I missed it last year through injury and I was just watching on from the sidelines teary-eyed not knowing if I would ever get back to that level again,” she recalled. “I was happy to get back into some level of playing, but to come out and play with everyone again and get over the line is just unbelievable. I had a few dark nights by myself in the gym, but the whole time you’re just thinking what the end goal is and when you get there it’s absolutely worth every single sacrifice. It’s unbelievable.”

That dedication to her own fitness is shared by her team mates, with every member of the squad returning to training early tis year to ensure they were in the best possible condition to challenge for Derry and Ulster.

“I think we deserved to win,” she said. “We put in a lot of work in the background and I suppose you don’t win three Senior Championships back-to-back without a bit of consistency, especially in the background. We started way back in January and February time in the gym then brought it onto the pitch then towards the ed of the winter. In the winter you obviously think about days like this – playing on a sunny day with all your team mates and there’s where the hard work hopefully materializes.”

Ultimately, it was a comfortable win against Ballymaguigan, but the game did bring its challenges, from a goal conceded after just 27 seconds to a second half where everything Steelstown hit seemed to go off target.

“It wasn’t an ideal start but it didn’t rattle us, we just kept our composure, these things happen, and we had a gameplan and we just had to stick to it,” Katy explained. “Ballymaguigan are a good side and they are up and coming and they are a young side as well so it won’t be the last of them that we’ll see. It’s always a great game playing against them and it’s always a competitive game as well and they always bring their ‘A’ game, so conceding early doors is not ideal but it didn’t rattle us too much.

“We don’t want complacency to set in. A lot of us girls were part of the panel in 2017 at Croke Park and we were nine points up in an All-Ireland final and we bottled it and ended up drawing on the day and losing the replay. In those moments that’s what you think of and you just think the game isn’t over until the whistle blows so we just had to keep playing towards the end and try to get a few more points over.”

With Derry conquered for a third time in three years, attention now turns to Ulster and winning a title that has so cruelly eluded them for far too long.

“I think when we started out this year, we were saying that anything less than an Ulster title would be considered as an unsuccessful season,” Katy acknowledged. “We’ve been chipping away at this Ulster year in and year out and back in 2020 we got off to an absolute stormer and it came to a halt with Covid. Last year we were then beaten by a point against a really good Kinawley side with a lot of good County player so hopefully this year we can get over the line and hopefully with this Ulster title this is the year.”


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