The Down camogs deserve their chance at playing at senior level and I don’t see any reason why they should not be allowed to do so.
The application is currently in for that to happen. I honestly don’t know how that will go, but I can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t happen.
This year was such an important one for Down camogie. The slogan at the moment is #cantseecantbe, and there was so much camogie for ones to watch -that was so important. The more that young girls can see women’s sport, the more they will want to play it. To have girls in clubs like Liatroim, Clonduff, and Ballycran, who they will see in the street and then see on television, is inspirational for young girls. That’s what makes them want to play. I’ve seen the younger ones really buying into it more. I think that’s the reason for it. That they are inspired that they can achieve something.
We put a lot into our training this year. Even during Covid lockdown restrictions, we were all keeping fit. We kept ourselves ticking over. When things started back up we went back into the county set-up and we had six weeks to get ready. We worked very hard in that time. I have to say that we had great coaches and great management this year. The training was very good and very enjoyable. Everyone was very committed.
We started off the championship against Derry and we had heard word that things weren’t going well in their camp. But we felt that there was more going on behind the scenes than we were being told.
So to get that win over Derry, that was a real morale-booster for the team. We took great confidence from that result.
I did think that the restructuring of the championship was harsh. It was harsh on the second tier teams. I didn’t think it was fair on them.
Anyway, we just had to play. And against Laois we started off slowly but worked our way into the game. We were stronger in the end and we took confidence from that result. We knew we were facing Meath in the semi-final.
They had tested us before and beat us a couple of times. We knew they were coming down from senior. We expected them to have learned a lot from playing senior. I felt in that game we were on top for periods but we didn’t take our chances. We were the better team.
In the second half we were able to stop them from scoring goals and that was important because goals are such a momentum-changer in camogie. In the end we won by six points. It was a good win but I thought we could have won by more.
We had the next two weeks to prepare, we got the media night over us and we were able to focus on the final. We did some hard work in training.
The final was in Breffni, and the warm up was not going to be ideal. We didn’t have much time allotted to us, and the full team couldn’t do the warm up. So we went somewhere else and did the warm up and then got to the ground just in time for the start.
Going into that game we were fairly confident in our ability. We knew we had been playing well and that we would be hard to beat. We have a lot of good players. Paula, O’Hagan, Niamh Mallon, Sara-Louise Graffin and Catherine McGourty are all leaders and big characters. We have the experience of a lot of tough tests. We have had a lot of harsh defeats and not done ourselves justice. This was our chance.
We were focused on taking our chances in the final but Antrim got the better start when they got an early goal. I can remember saying that it was fine. It was better it happened then than in the last minute. We didn’t panic. We were able to handle it. They did have other goal chances but we dealt with them. We were able to take our chances. Then Lauren Clarke got the ball to Sara-Louise and she hit it so hard no one saw the ball.
Antrim had a good start to the second half but we responded with two goals and I think that knocked the stuffing out of them.
I don’t think the scoreline reflected Antrim’s performance -4-16 to 2-10 -but it did reflect our own.
It was a massive win for us. We had been unfortunate in the years beforehand, and when you lose finals and semi-finals it can have an effect on you. You start to doubt whether it will happen.
After a tough year the girls showed that they are good enough.
So I think that the girls deserve a chance to play at senior level. I don’t know if they will be able to beat the likes of Kilkenny or Cork or Galway, but they will give them a game. I think they have the potential of getting to a quarter or even a semi-final.
They deserve the chance.