All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship Group Two Round One
Tipperary v Down
Saturday, The Ragg, 3pm
DOWN’S All-Ireland Championship campaign gets underway against Tipperary this weekend, and Sara Louise Carr says they are determined to prove that last year’s run to the final was no fluke.
They exceeded expectations by reaching the All-Ireland Intermediate final, and although they were second best on the big day against Cork, their fairytale run to the final will linger long in the memory of everyone associated with Down camogie.
And while it’s too early to get carried away with ourselves, the signs are good that they could go one step further than last year with a little bit of luck.
They’ve already retained their Ulster title in style with a deserved win over Antrim, and Carr goes as far to say that this is the best Down team that she has been involved with.
“We’d struggled with numbers in last year’s league but we strengthened our panel and maybe our run to the final enticed a few other girls to come and play.
“It’s probably the best Down team that I’ve ever played on, and the talent on the squad has helped everyone push on as everyone’s out to win a jersey.”
Martina Rooney’s side defeated Tipperary in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, but the Premier County gained a modicum of revenge when they came out on top of a league quarter-final this year. Down’s all-conquering Clonduff contingent were unavailable that day on the back of their All-Ireland final win in the spring, so Down should be considerably stronger this weekend.
“We beat Tipperary in the semi-final last year by a point or two. I don’t know how much focus was on our league game as both teams were missing players, but I’d say this game is more about setting down a marker.
“If you’re beaten in your first game you’re chasing your tails a bit, so it’s a huge match for us. I’m sure Tipp will be out to avenge that semi-final and we’ll want to show that we deserved to be in the final.”
It’s been quite the 12 months for Carr, pocketing two Ulster Championship medals and winning the All-Ireland Intermediate title with her club when Clonduff overcame Gailltír back in February.
There was a considerable degree redemption at stake as she was sent off for a second bookable offence in Down’s All-Ireland defeat to Cork, and she says getting back to her club did much to help overcome her personal devastation.
“We’d very bad memories leaving Croke Park and for me personally it was difficult as well.
“Not too many people get a chance to right those wrongs and we got a chance a whole lot sooner than we expected. It was great to get that chance and it’s definitely put away a bit of hurt.
“Even being back with Clonduff very quickly after the All-Ireland, the club girls help pick you up so you can put it behind you.”
Carr’s appetite is by no means satisfied, however, and she says she doesn’t dwell on the achievements of the past year.
“You kind of forget how well we’ve done and what we’ve achieved because you’re straight back into it again although we got a break after winning the All-Ireland.
“You get back to the club, back to the league, everything is quickly forgotten about and you’re trying to push on and do it again.”
And even though the Ulster Championship was rattled off in the fortnight, she says it meant the world that they retained the title considering the tournament has been dominated by Derry and Antrim in recent times.
“It really does mean a lot to us, I’d never won an Ulster title. Derry and Antrim really dominated the competition and I’m not sure how they feel about it but to us it’s massive.
“We’ve got two in a row now so it’s massive. Our semi-final against Derry was huge for us and it was probably the first time all year we’d a full team out.”