By Paul Keane
As she approaches the start of another camogie campaign with Dublin, Ciara Tierney is drawn back to two games against Kilkenny last season.
The first, the Leinster final in Kilkenny city in mid-May, when the sides were still tied with normal time almost up, proved to the Dublin goalkeeper that they have the players and the talent to mix it with the very best.
The second, the All-Ireland series tie six weeks later at Parnell Park, when Kilkenny won by 3-14 to 0-11, equally underlined to the Dublin goalkeeper just how important it is for this group of players to deliver their A game on a consistent basis.
It is that consistency that Dublin will be chasing throughout 2024.
"I think last year, what we did in the Leinster final, how close we got, I think we proved to a lot of people and to ourselves that that performance is in us," said Tierney at the announcement that GetPRO, a new high protein range from Danone, are the new Official Protein Partner of Dublin GAA.
"I suppose for us it's to get that performance consistently. We were obviously hoping going into the All-Ireland series to drive on from that performance which we probably did in parts but not in other games. So yeah, it's something that we have been working on. We know we have it in us as a group and as a team. But it's just getting that every day we go out, the consistent performance that the likes of Cork and Kilkenny get."
Dublin will compete in Division 1B of this season's Very Camogie League. Their campaign will begin with a February 24 tie against Leinster rivals Wexford. It is a step down in standard following last season's relegation from Division 1A though Tierney is focused on the positives.
"We're looking at it from the point of view of there being silverware there to be won," she said. "We have our eyes set on the league, being in a league final and pushing on from that into the Leinster championship and the All-Ireland later in the summer. We're taking every game as it comes, treating it no different to last year. But we know what we want and we definitely want to be in that final and win it."
It isn't lost on anyone in Dublin's camp that Waterford won last year's Division 1B title before going on to contest the All-Ireland final later in the year. The rise of the Deise was inspirational to Tierney.
"Yeah, absolutely," she enthused. "That was what we spoke about at the start of this year, bringing home silverware and I suppose we're looking at every competition as it comes and playing what's in front of us so over the next few weeks our focus is on the league but we're conscious that we want to build on that throughout the year and, yeah, what Waterford did, it probably came from their belief and that's something we have worked on, believing in ourselves and what we can do."
Tierney is satisfied with what she sees when she glances around the Dublin dressing-room before training. It's a settled management team and a talented panel of players.
"We'd had, for the first time in a long-time, continuity with management, which has been huge," said the Na Fianna stalwart. "Being able to start that bit earlier, and they know the girls, we know them, stuff like that, it's great. We had a couple of girls last year, Niamh Gannon and Kerrie Finnegan, who were away on J1s and stuff too, they're back in now, and are huge additions so preparations are going well and we're looking forward to getting started.
"Like I said, having a few girls back, having lost Kerrie and Niamh and one or two others, and then the younger girls, the two young Couches, the two young Gannons have stepped up into a more senior role and they became leaders which was great to see and having that again this year, the few extra leaders on the team, it's been great."