Ann Downey looking forward to Kilkenny hurling decider
Conor Browne's patience is now being rewarded so his aunt Ann Downey remains encouraged as Sunday's Kilkenny SHC Final at Nowlan Park edges closer.
James Stephens' tussle with Ballyhale Shamrocks promises to be a lively affair as 'The Village' seek to claim a first title since 2011.
Browne, a son of Angela Downey's, flared to prominence in the black and amber jersey during the 2019 Championship which pleased the former Kilkenny Camogie boss.
"He had a good year, yeah, considering that he had been on the panel for so long and wasn't probably getting any game time with all the games that they played," Downey says.
"Then to get the call-up against Cork, he did a great job against Cork. The same marking Cian Lynch - what Davina [Tobin] does for us, Conor would do for the county.
"He has a great engine. He puts some work into his sport and to himself conditioning himself, minding himself, feeding and all the rest."
Next on Browne's agenda is a demanding assignment against AIB All Ireland club champions Ballyhale.
"It will be a great day at the weekend," Downey admits. "I mean they're up against it. Shamrocks are a team that you can only sit back and admire. They're so talented. TJ (Reid), you know, when he's not playing against us - it's great to have him in the black and amber. He is magic. I hope he doesn't break their hearts at the weekend. But they're in it, and they have a chance."
Downey, who recently announced her decision to step away from the Kilkenny Camogie manager's position, acknowledges the link which exists between Camogie and hurling.
"There is in fairness, with the County Board, it's the one thing," Downey states.
"They'll turn themselves inside out for us. We get Dunmore or we got Nowlan Park. Jimmy Walsh and Conor Denieffe, I couldn't speak highly enough of them.
"When the lads were knocked out we were in Nowlan Park a few nights training. You wouldn't have it any place else to be honest. Unreal, yeah. And rightly so. Sure isn't that the way it should be?"
It will be a different winter for Downey, who won't be planning and plotting for another inter-county campaign.
"I stopped playing in, I think, it was '99, then I got involved with a hurling club, then I got involved in Camogie, then I got involved in another hurling club, then I went back to Camogie, then I got involved in another hurling club in 2016," Downey reflects.
"I've always been doing something since I retired from playing myself. So yeah, I will certainly miss it, yeah.
"You never say no. Because I suppose my biggest problem is I'm not able to say no. I've done a few training sessions since the All-Ireland.
"I was down in Wexford and there's medals to be presented and stuff like that. You never say never. But at the moment, I'm trying to take a break if that's possible."
It has been well earned.