Dubs to raise the bar

by James Hendicott
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DUBLIN camogie star Sarah O’Donovan has promised her Dublin side will push the boat out ahead of the new season, saying “we’ve put our aims out in writing; we want to win silverware”.
Under the new management of former Kilkenny hurler David Herity, the girls in blue have made a strong start to pre-season, comfortably beating Wexford in a challenge match, and hitting peak levels in training.
“Intensity levels have gone up 100%,” O’Donovan said, adding that she’s never suffered so much through the pre-season fitness sessions as this time around.
“David is very slow to praise you, and I think that’s a good thing.
“There’s long been a culture in camogie so saying ‘well done’, and it’s not always clear what people are saying ‘well done’ for. He wants us to forget ‘well done’, and become faster, stronger and more encouraging.
“We’re talking about what we need to do on the pitch, not praising what we already did.”
Herity’s job has involved integrating a large number of new players into the panel – approximately half of the squad in total – and several have given O’Donovan plenty of added impetus.
“Last year we’d have been ranked about sixth,” the former Cork star, who converted to Dublin after moving to St Vincent’s due to work commitments, explained.
“We’ve been looking at clubs like Slaughtneil [the rural Derry side that are in the running to win an astonishing triple club All Ireland] for inspiration. But we’ve got players that are going to make impact, particularly the youngsters.
“I think Eva Marie Elliott, who plays with me at Vincent’s, is a vital addition at wing back. Doireann Mullaney from Ballyboden is a great player, and Alex Griffin from St Brigid’s has been making a big impact.
“She’s just doing her Leaving Cert this coming year and preparing to study medicine, so committing to the team is a huge decision for her and shows great loyalty. It’s really promising.”
As for playing Cork on the opening day of the season, O’Donovan says it that it is no longer odd to face her former team. “We played them in 2015 at Parnell Park and that was a weird day for me,” she admits.
“The team has changed a lot, though, and it’s been a long time since I last played with Cork. Most of the girls playing now don’t know who I am.
“When I played soccer [O’Donovan is a former age-group international], I got used to the idea that you play for a team mentality rather than a crest of a shirt, and I’ve really bought into the mentality of Dublin.
“Cork don’t normally take the National League seriously,” she continued, “but we’ve heard that’s not the case this year, and they’ll want to lay down a marker against us at the weekend. We’ll be looking to do the same.”
Dublin’s league season gets underway away against Cork on Saturday, February 18.

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