By Niall Gartland
ANTRIM boss Elaine Dowds says they want to show that they’re more than just ‘northern upstarts’ when they take on Tipperary in Saturday’s All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship quarter-final against Tipperary (Croke Park 3.30pm).
Even those with a passing interest in camogie will probably assume that the girls from the Premier County will come through this one – I mean, it is Tipperary, right – but the Saffrons have already plundered group stage victories over Limerick and Offaly en route to the quarters. They had a bad day out against Waterford last weekend, but Dowds says that shouldn’t diminish their overall standing ahead of Saturday’s mammoth tussle in Croker. The Saffrons are one of only six teams left standing in the competition which says it all.
Elaine Dowds said: “We don’t know much about Tipp, we’ve never met them but they’ve been knocking on the door the last few years, getting narrowly beat at the semi final stage.
“They have experience and some incredible results this year so we know what we’re up against on Saturday. I think that we would just be considered to be the upstarts from the North, the team that everyone wanted to get drawn against in the quarter finals and we’ll be expected to get hammered.
“We’ll have something to say about that on Saturday though, it’ll be a huge challenge, but I know the ability we have and I really believe that if we go out and play to our potential, we could cause a massive upset.”
The Saffrons shipped five goals in a heavy beating against Waterford last weekend but they have no real time to lick their wounds as there’s only a one-week turnaround for the quarter-finals. Manager Elaine Dowds describes it as an eye opener but is confident it won’t leave any lasting scars.
“Waterford on Saturday was an eye opener! I don’t know if our performance was due to us having one eye on Croke Park and knowing that ultimately the outcome of the game didn’t affect our standing, but we were really poor. On the other hand, Waterford were unbelievable, I think they could get to the final and win this year but basically we’ve decided to draw a line under that game and move on.
“With the quarter final against Tipp being so soon, we’ve no option but to just focus on that game and on what we can do to realise our potential and play to the best of our ability. We trained and in fairness to the girls, they have a good mindset and didn’t dwell too much on Saturday. They know to just reset and get tuned in to what’s ahead this weekend. It’s a sharp turnaround but we met our sport psychologist (Kelley Fay) and she’ll help us to get in the right frame of mind for Saturday.”
The anticipation of playing in Croke Park is another reason to park the Waterford defeat, as Dowds acknowledges:
“It’s every GAA player’s dream really. Winning the Junior and Intermediate All Irelands and Loughgiel getting to the All Ireland Club final in December has meant that almost every single player we have has at least some experience playing there.
“They know how daunting it can be and how noisy so hopefully they’ll be able to put all those distractions to the side and focus on the game.”