By Niall Gartland
LOUGHGIEL star Roisin McCormick is cautiously optimistic that they can go one better than last year after the disappointment of falling just short on the big day in Croke Park.
The Shamrocks played their part in a stirring contest against Sarsfields in last year’s All-Ireland final, losing out by 2-14 to 1-14.
That was no consolation, however, and McCormick makes no bones about their ambition of putting right the wrongs of last year.
They’ve put themselves in good position to do so, retaining their Ulster crown with a comfortable victory over Down side Liaotrim, and now they’re looking ahead to an All-Ireland semi-final clash against Dicksboro of Kilkenny this weekend.
McCormick gave a stunning individual display in last year’s All-Ireland final but it’s a team game and she says they’re all putting in a massive effort geared towards achieving redemption for such a narrow defeat.
“It wasn’t our best performance I must say but it was a lot of the girls’ first experience of playing in Croke Park.
“It’s a big occasion, you’re waiting since you’re a wee toddler to play in Croke Park and there’s that initial sense of shock, it’s such a big stadium.
“It was heartbreaking but you live and learn and hopefully we can push on and get over the line this year. It’s been the aim since the day we lost the final and that extra year of experience might go a long way towards it.”
On what went wrong, so to speak, against Sarsfields, she continued: “I think it might have come down to composure.
“It took us 15, 20 minutes to get into the game and they’re a very smart team with very smart players. We’ve been working on different aspects of our game this year and hopefully it pays off.”
Loughgiel have already shown their resilient nature by making it to the top of the tree in Ulster.
They played second fiddle to Sleacht Néill to the point it looked like they were never going to get the better of them, but they finally broke through in last year’s Ulster final and they followed it up with another victory at the semi-final juncture a few months back.
McCormick said: “It was five or six years of defeats to Sleacht Néill but they are a great side, all those great players like Tina Hannon, Louise Dougan and the Cassidys were in their prime. We just couldn’t get over the line but we kept at it and that first win over Sleacht Néill last year was amazing.
“It’s nice that all the hard work paid off and that we’ve got to this level. It’s nice for the whole community and it feels like the entire county is behind us as well.”
On the challenge of facing a Dicksboro team that have won three of the last five Kilkenny titles, McCormick added:
“We haven’t any experience of playing them but it’s an All-Ireland semi-final so it’s not going to be easy.
“They beat a St Vincent’s side that really put it up to Sarsfields last year so we have to take it as it comes and work hard. Obviously it’s a Kilkenny side and they’re the home of hurling so that’s in the back of our minds as well.”