Westmeath full-forward Pamela Greville (36) is the Office Manager in Mullingar Golf Club and won camogie’s 2019 Intermediate Player of the Year.
Her medals include All-Ireland Junior B (2011), All Ireland Junior (2012), All-Ireland Premier (2017) and All-Ireland Intermediate last year when she scored 0-9 (5fs. 1’45) in the final. In 2019 she also won a long-awaited Leinster junior club title with Raharney. She plays for Westmeath in Division 2 in the Camogie Leagues.
I don’t think I will ever forget the final whistle at the end of the 2019 All-Ireland intermediate final, especially because we came back from seven points down to win it. It was the pinnacle of my career and I also loved the way we were able to go around the pitch afterwards. Being able to appreciate it with your family and friends in that moment was just really special.
In the dressing room at half-time we were so quiet. We’re usually quiet but this was different. Johnny had instilled it into us all year, that it’s only 30 minutes and we can change anything. We knew we were wasteful in the first half and that we had the work ethic to make sure Galway didn’t have the ball and, ‘if we have it we can do something with it.’ That was everyone’s mind-set.
My daughter Stephanie, who is 15 and plays camogie and football, came up on the bus with us and got to see all the pre-match build-up and afterwards was allowed on the pitch and able to come around with us which was also very special. She will have such great memories of it.
Having Stephanie actually affected my camogie career in a really positive way.
I was 20 when I had her. Those late teenage years, from 17 to 19, can be a tricky time for girls and is often when they lose interest in their sport.
But when I had Stephanie I was just determined to get back. I actually went back in training just six weeks afterwards and haven’t stopped since.
It wasn’t easy at times to get to training but her nan and my family would mind her and the club (Raharney) also became her second home. Whenever I couldn’t get a baby sitter I just brought her along and she’d play away on the side-line.
Daddy (Sean Greville) was the county goalkeeper and a replacement All Star years ago so, as children, we went everywhere with a hurl in our hand. There’s eight of us in the family so we’re just a little bit competitive! We used to play All-Irelands out in our garden and there was no holding back. My sister Sandra also played for Westmeath for years and we played shinty together for Leinster and Ireland and she was Irish captain.
But we had great fun and that’s probably why we’re so into it. Mum and Dad are still there, following us around to every game all year, proud as punch to see Johnny and myself out there.
This is Johnny’s fourth year as Westmeath manager and my brother Jimmy is also a selector and the goalkeeping coach. Jimmy actually designed the new jerseys we wore for the final because he works for Intersport and we didn’t have an away jersey. He put navy into it and it went down a treat, lots of people wanted one afterwards. They were personalised and we got to keep them which is a lovely thing to have in years to come.
2019 was just a dream year.
On top of winning the All-Ireland my club Raharney won the Leinster junior title, something we’d honestly been trying to do for 12 years. That was an amazing day because the All Stars were on the same night and it was a mad rush afterwards.
The Leinster club final was played in Clane and we literally had an hour and 45 minutes to make the All Stars. We went straight into Clane to get the hair done and, luckily enough, my brother’s girlfriend does make-up so she met us in the hotel room. The dress was the easy part. I was late down but the adrenalin after winning the game helped.
Then to finish the night winning the Intermediate Player of the Year, I just couldn’t believe it.
I actually thought the Galway girl would win it. The way I was called up was brilliant. He said ‘And you may come back up here Pamela!’ and the place just went ballistic. I will never forget that moment.
Everyone else in Raharney went celebrating the ‘Leinster’ except the five of us who were going to the All Stars and our centre-back Fiona Leavy and corner-back Laura Doherty were among seven Westmeath players to win Soaring Star awards. I think Westmeath had four tables and let’s just say we weren’t the quietest when anyone won anything!
People probably don’t know how far we’ve come and I don’t just mean Westmeath. I was a sub first for the county seniors when I was 14 and actually started out in goals. I reckon I’ve played in every position since.
My first ever thing to win with the county was a one-day championship, like a blitz. We trained for a couple of weeks and just went on the day, a completely different level of commitment than what’s happened in the past decade.
Since I started there have been great improvements in the game and also in the way the Camogie Association promotes and advertises it and the Very sponsorship plays a great part in that. Another boost, especially for Westmeath, is the team grant we get thanks to the Women’s Gaelic Players’ Association (WGPA). A lot of the additional support we have now – a psychologist, a nutritionist – we wouldn’t have had the funds to get that. That’s made a definite difference.
But people don’t know how hard it’s been at times. About six years ago Laois beat us in a Premier Junior semi-final and I really thought about giving it up at that point, you’d be thinking ‘oh we’re never going to get to the next level.’
But, after a month, I said ‘no’ because I’ve always had belief in Westmeath camogie. I believe we have great players. Getting them involved was the biggest challenge. Raharney were dominating in the county at the time yet I was the only Raharney player involved because others just weren’t ready to give the commitment then.
That’s all changed in the past four years for two reasons. The county board’s support was always a given but they got even more behind us. They were willing to put in the work and the research to find out how we were going to get to the next level.
And I know he’s my brother, but Johnny coming in completely changed the dynamic. Everyone has such belief and trust in him and that draws players to the team.
He’s given us such structure He has two coaches and a psychologist at every sessions and right now I know my schedule right up until May, every detail of it.
We know exactly what we’re expected to put in and have to be prepared to put it in, but we also know when we can have a bit of a life. You have to have that I think, to balance out the huge commitment you’re making to camogie.
My biggest struggle throughout the years was not knowing what was coming up, particularly having a child and trying to do everything.
I’m the type of person who, if I’m, I’m totally in.
Back then you might get a text on a Friday, saying ‘training on Saturday or Sunday morning’ in the far side of the county. It wasn’t the management’s fault, it was just the way it was and pitches weren’t available etc. For me personally, training every Sunday morning isn’t great, you need to have family time, so we currently switch them around, two Saturdays and two Sundays, which helps.
They say you should quit on a high and I was thinking ‘I should stop, I should definitely stop now’ but I just couldn’t sit at home knowing Westmeath are playing senior in Leinster and All-Ireland this year for the first time ever. Whether I have any input I don’t know but I’ll put the effort in to get to where I can and then I’ll be happy. All I’ve every wanted, since I was 17, was to play senior. Our first senior championship match is against Galway on the first of June and we have Kilkenny at home which is a real treat. We have to be realistic, it’s our first time up and Galway are amazing but playing senior should bring us on hugely.
I think it’s easier to keep going now because training nowadays is so much more compressed. It’s 70 minutes, you push yourself really hard during it and I find that having a team psychologist really helps to get you out of the mindset of ‘I’m too old or I’m not able’. That’s really helped me focus on the training or game for that one hour or so.
I’m 36 and the next one to me on the Westmeath squad is 30. The panel goes all the way down to 17 but we actually have the best of fun. We’re like a little family and we’ve done a lot of work on that; going socialising or going to the cinema together.
Even though I’m a forward I tend to look on myself as a back, my mission is that ‘they’re not going to get out with it’. I suppose you could describe that as Westmeath’s ‘style of play’ too. I get my hurls off a guy in Waterford, a 33 inch with a double grip on it because I use quite a short grip so the grip goes down quite low. I don’t really have any superstitions though I have to have tissues in my socks or I panic.
When I’m playing I just wear a little mascara. I don’t know why, it’s just habit really. I’m lucky enough not to need tan but come the Championship most of the rest of them have ‘Tan Thursday!’ It’s all about the mind. You need to feel a certain way when you walk onto a pitch and that’s their thing.
Because of our club commitments we were allowed a month off training but I actually didn’t take it. I went back in on January 1. At my age you’re better off not stopping!
Like everyone else I’m interested to see how the new rules will change things this season.
I think not dropping the hurl may cause a bit of bother because you can have markers who pull it out of your hand so players could manipulate that a bit.
The new penalties will be interesting. When I played in the backs I’d be one of the three on the line and the poor goalie wouldn’t know what I was doing! Now the goalkeepers will be able to showcase their skills. For me the increased physicality is the big one. There should be less frees and more continuity. We train to be physical and we’re able for it so I’m looking forward to that once it’s safe.
What I love most is the hard work and getting the results. I genuinely believe that it doesn’t matter what county you come from, you can be successful if you have the self-belief. If you truly believe in yourselves then the hard work and commitment follows. For me it starts and finishes with that belief and everyone on the team having that collective belief.