Gailltír's long road to Croker

February 27, 2019

Gailltír's Claire Dunne at the launch of the 2019 AIB All-Ireland intermediate camogie club championship final. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan.

BY SHANE STAPLETON

Claire Dunne can’t walk down the street without talk of Gailltír’s bid for All-Ireland Intermediate glory.

This Sunday, the Waterford outfit will lock horns with Down’s Clonduff at Croke Park, hoping to lift the AIB All-Ireland intermediate camogie title.

It’s been a long and winding road to get here. After beating De La Salle in the county final, Gailltír overcame Cork’s Éire Óg to raise the Munster crown, before outlasting St Rynagh's of Offaly by 3-8 to 0-12 in the AIB All-Ireland semi-final.

Dunne, who works as a teacher alongside former Waterford boss Derek McGrath at De La Salle college, can’t wait for the big showdown at GAA HQ.

“I’m definitely excited,” says Dunne at the AIB All-Ireland Senior and Intermediate Camogie Club Championships media day. “It’s a bit surreal to be here, to be honest. We’re excited, and I’m definitely a little bit nervous, but when the game comes, we’ll be good to go.

“It’s been a long year for us. It’s been constant, and now we’re coming into March after starting pre-season last January, so we’re just waiting for a long time. There’s been a big gap, and we just can’t wait now.”

At 28 years of age, Dunne is on the scene for quite some time and marvels at the idea of finally making it to Croke Park at this stage of her camogie career. Former Déise boss McGrath recently took a training session with Gailltír, despite their beating his own De La Salle in the county decider, and imparted his wisdom on the team.

“It was fantastic to have him take a session, and he’s such an inspirational speaker,” says Dunne, whose side has a nice mix of youth and players who experienced a Munster title win two seasons ago. “We have a good few girls who have been playing for a number of years, but we have a few who have just come on the senior team in the last three years.

“Look, the experience is really important, but in fairness to the girls, and especially to the girls who have stepped up to the mark this year, you’d think they had been playing with us all along. There is something special in the younger girls, and then the older girls bring that experience on the day itself.

“The build-up has been great and we’ve had so much support from everybody. Everyone you meet on the street, they just want to talk about it. Everyone is buzzing for it and they’ve behind us 100%.

“The club was 60 years old last year, so it’s something special,” she adds. “We’d love to get over the line — not just for us as a team. We want to do it for the whole community, all the supporters, and everyone who has contributed to us from the first day. It’ll be a huge day for our supporters.”

All-Ireland club successes have been few and far between for Waterford sides over the years. Lismore secured the intermediate club camogie title in 2014 after a 3-8 to 0-7 win over Ballyhale Shamrocks, while last year Ardmore became the first men’s side to take national honours after a 3-11 to 0-18 victory over St Mogue’s Fethard of Wexford in the junior decider.

“Everyone is behind us,” says Dunne. “Clubs in Waterford, especially the camogie clubs in Waterford, are behind us and camogie is really coming up. It’s great support.

“Croke Park will suit us. We have very young players, a fast-paced team who move all around. Our half-forward love to take a few shots too, so it will really suit our style of play.

“I have no doubt it will be a really tough match, it’s going to be tight. It’ll be one of those games where neither will give up; we really want it, but so do they. I’d guess it’ll be a great game.

“There’s nothing to lose. This is it now, this is where we want to be. We’ll go out there and give it our all, and what happens on the day is what happens. We want to play as well as we can.”



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