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Maher soaks it in as Dubs’ mettle brings League rewards

Maher soaks it in as Dubs’ mettle brings League rewards

Mon, 15th April 2024

By Daragh Ó Conchúir

Pic courtesy Inpho

Aisling Maher praised the mettle of the Dublin dressing room, after the Sky Blues won the Very Camogie League Division 1B title thanks to a dramatic injury time goal by Grace O’Shea.

Bill McCormack’s charges looked to be falling to a narrow defeat as Wexford’s outstanding full-forward Ciara O’Connor, who was responsible for all bar one point of her side’s total, grabbed her second goal with just over six minutes of normal time left.

But O’Shea billowed the Yellowbellies’ net in the 62nd minute for Maher to be presented with the coveted silverware as a result of a 2-10 to 2-8 scoreline at SETU Carlow.

The Dublin skipper is a former All-Star that has played in an All-Ireland semi-final but witnessed a lot of upheaval in the meantime, watching disillusioned colleagues drift away while the manager’s seat was filled and vacated at a head-spinning rate.

Bill McCormack is another new boss this year, though Gerry McQuaid, who stepped into the fray at very late notice last year remains a key part of the set-up.

Certainly, the alchemy looks a positive one and the vibe is a positive one in Dublin camogie now, with the county’s second string having claimed Division 3B honours.

“It’s an absolute honour and privilege to be able to play on the field alongside that group of girls,” said Maher.

“I’m so proud of the effort that’s been put in. There’s been a lot of challenges thrown against us this year, never mind over the last ten years and no better group of girls to pick up the pieces and push each other through.

“The likes of Jody Couch, standing injured on the sideline the whole year and still the biggest motivator of everyone says it all.

“Two League wins for two Dublin teams. I’d say that’s the first time in a long time that was done.”

Throughout all the turmoil, the one great constant has been county chairman, Karl O’Brien and Maher placed heavy emphasis on his support. And the backing of a loyal core of family and friends through the tough times was hailed also.

“I cannot speak highly enough of that man. As is no secret to anybody who plays women’s sports, the barriers are often higher, and if there is one man who has never said no to me, to anything I’ve asked for the girls or for the team... It’s always, ‘We’ll make it happen.’ Nothing we do would be possible without Karl and we really appreciate everything he does for us.

“To see the supporters, all the young girls who come down to support us, it makes such a difference to have that noise on the sideline. Looking around and seeing the crowd of blue today makes us know that the future of Dublin Camogie is bright.

“But it’s friends and family, the same group of parents that are on the sideline for every match we play up and down the country, probably watching us come out the wrong side of games more often than the right side. For sticking with us the whole way through, for driving us around and for everything else they do, picking up the pieces, we really appreciate that.”

Wexford have had their own travails too and contributed handsomely to a wonderful final. They had started well with O’Connor’s first goal after 95 seconds and then fought back from falling behind in the second half as Nolan goaled and Maher slotted five points, to place themselves in a winning position. But they just couldn’t see it out.

The Dublin captain acknowledged the progress made in the Model County and predicted more chapters to their healthy rivalry.

“Ourselves and Wexford have faced many similar challenges over the last few years and they’ve shown their character and strength in depth by getting back to the level that they were at today.

“That was never going to be an easy game, probably one we’ve been looking forward to, getting another cut off them after they beat us in the first round. We look forward to meeting them again.”

DUBLIN: A Gorman, A Ryan, E O’Byrne, E Jameson-Murphy, C Gannon, A Maher, K Finnegan, N Gannon, G Couch, A McKearney, O Gray, A Heffernan, A O’Neill, E Flanagan, G O’Shea. Subs: Á Rafter for Gray (18), A Gannon for Flanagan (34), S Nolan for McKearney (44), H O’Dea for Rafter (58), S Power for Jameson Murphy (60+3)

WEXFORD: L Brennan, R Cooney, M Sinnott, L Dempsey, A Brennan, C Storey, A Cardiff, Shelley Kehoe, S O’Connor, A Curran, C Foxe, K Kirwan, O Sinnott, C O’Connor, E Tomkins. Subs: J Dillon for Tomkins (44), K Roche for Dempsey (58), A Neville for Kirwan (60+1)

SCORERS FOR DUBLIN: G O’Shea 1-3; A Maher 0-5(3fs); S Nolan 1-1; A Heffernan 0-1

SCORERS FOR WEXFORD: C O’Connor 2-7(0-6fs); L Dempsey 0-1

REFEREE: Barry Nea (Westmeath)

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