Lucan Sarsfields’ Ali Twomey is hopeful the underdog tag will serve Dublin well in the National Camogie League in 2014 after the county was given a particularly daunting draw.
They have been placed in an initial group with 2013 All-Ireland winners Galway, 2012 champs Wexford along with Cork who have won the league for the past two years. Draws do not come much tougher but the Lucan Sarsfields’ starlet is anticipating that this offers a real test of character that will stand to the Sky Blues. Speaking at Dublin sponsors AIG’s launch of the 2014 league campaigns across the codes, Twomey told GazetteSport that while they can feel hard done by, there is plenty that can be learned from this draw.
“Obviously, people will look at it and think we aren’t going to do well because they are three of the top teams in the country and we haven’t won many matches in the last two years. But it is sometimes good to be the underdog and they won’t be expecting us. We will just train hard, that’s all we can do.
“It will be a good test of character for us and will drive us on. Playing them in the league, we will know the standard we have to work to be at for the championship.”
Twomey is one of Lucan Sarsfields’ 2008 vintage that claimed the club’s first of two All-Ireland Feile titles in quick succession as part of a glittering underage career.
Indeed, she says that 2013 was the first in her playing days that she did take home a club title – something she says “won’t happen again”. Her involvement with the Dublin senior team meant she was precluded from playing for the club in their groundbreaking Leinster League success in December.
The development of their youth system at the 12th Lock is quickly beginning to pay dividends at adult level, something that Twomey hopes can be replicated at county level.
“Liam Ryan was the main man, starting the teams and would have been working with our age in the Feile teams in 2007 and 2008 and we just kept on going. It carried on into the younger teams as well and they have now won loads of championships and four minor titles in-a-row.
“We went down to see the Leinster league final and we were thinking ‘we are going to be lucky to get our places back in that team’. The younger girls coming up are so good and we don’t know where we will fit back in.”
The skill level is all apparent but getting the physical aspect is one that needs to be negotiated to formally make the next step, firstly at club level.
“One of our problems last year was the team was so small and we would get pushed off the ball. That’s one of the things we worked on all winter – and getting our strength up.
“Experience as well would be a big thing because the oldest player in the side would be 27; next after that is 22 and then there are all the players like me who are 19 or 18 down to 16. That’s the main chunk of the team.”
It is something that can be replicated at Dublin level in her eyes once they are eased into the expanded training panel.
“The younger Dublin teams have had quite a bit of success at underage level, the Under-16s winning the All-Ireland and the minors winning in Leinster. There is a great bunch of younger players coming up and hopefully they will strengthen the team.
“Some might be afraid, thinking they are not good enough to step up. But they don’t realise they are. If minor players are introduced into a few training sessions, to get to realise and see that it’s not that scary. When I was going up, I remember saying ‘I’m too scared’. If we can train with those minors, it will be good for them.”