Former Kilkenny manager Ann Downey says the importance of Saturday's All-Ireland camogie final victory versus Galway cannot be overstated for the county.
Kilkenny claimed their 14th O'Duffy Cup with a 1-14 to 1-11 win against Galway, ending a run of three defeats in a row in the final.
Ann Downey managed Kilkenny to All-Ireland victory in 2016 before stepping away following 2019's final defeat to Galway and speaking to Joe on this Monday's Off The Ball, she says a fourth defeat in a row in the game's showpiece could have been a killer blow to the game in the county.
"For camogie in Kilkenny the win at the weekend was just so, so important to be quite honest," she said.
"There's only so many times you can ask the girls to go back to the well, it was such a hard job for Brian (Dowling) to go for another year. For the camogie to stay strong and for girls to stay interested it was really important to get the win."
Ann Downey on the Cats' Camogie triumph
Current manager Brian Dowling was part of Ann Downey's backroom team during the 2019 season, before taking over as bainisteoir when Downey stepped aside last year.
The former boss says there were no bitter-sweet feelings watching the players celebrate at Croke Park on Friday night, having seen the sacrifices both the players and Dowling had made over the years.
"I was just so thrilled really for Brian because it's easy to criticise a manager when a team loses, it's the first thing that will happen. For Brian to take on the mantle, and I know the heartache he went through last year with St Kieran's College losing a replay, and his very good friend Brother Damien passing away the week before our All-Ireland last year.
"Going to Croke Park and Galway beating us, so he had a really tough time, I was just so delighted for the girls and so delighted for Brian that he stuck with them and got the win.
"I wouldn't have been able in 2020 to be quite honest, I was just spun-out from the effort of the four years before, but happy to leave it in good hands, and it proved it was the right decision for me to move away," she said.
The game has grown in popularity in the last 24 months after the Camogie Association allowed more physical challenges between players, an area of the game Downey says her players were still coming to terms with for their 2019 campaign.
But after seeing the greater edge the physicality has brought to the contest, she says the game is infinitely better for it.
"It has, you go back to the real disaster of 2018 when there were so many frees and people left the ground saying they were never going to attend the camogie final again. I think it was a great advertisement for camogie and congratulations to Limerick on their great win yesterday, but I'd have to say the camogie All-Ireland was probably better as a spectacle."