Bond vital as Derry end search for All-Ireland glory

By Michael McMullan

THE bond between players and management made the difference this season as Derry camogs landed All-Ireland honours insists attacking ace Aoife Shaw.

The Lavey star hit 0-7 and made the goal for Shannon O’Connor as Derry eventually fended off Meath in a 1-17 to 1-9 victory to land a second intermediate title.

“I think the management had a great bond with the players,” said Shaw, who referred to a vital meeting ahead of the championship.

“We obviously didn’t perform very well in the league. We then had an open and honest discussion between players and managers.

“That is what needed as being part of a team so everybody is learning from their mistakes to push on.

“That bond was what drove us on at the finish. We are so close-knit this year and that is what makes the big difference on the big days.”

It was a testing six days since the drawn game when Derry threw away an eight-point lead at Croke Park and survived when Aoife Minogue missed a last chance to win the game for Meath at the death.

“It is still hard to put into words, my nerves are still wrecked. It is an unbelievable feeling to finally get over the line,” Shaw said in the middle of well-wishers on the Clones sod after Saturday’s win.

“We always knew we would be able to get over the line if we played the way we could. We obviously didn’t do it in the second half last week.

“We knew if we came out and played the way we can, we’d get there, I think it was a bit nervy when it got back to a point but it really drove us on.”

A Minogue penalty and a quickfire point saw Derry’s five-point lead cut to the bare minimum before Mary Hegarty and Shaw hit points to get them back on track before O’Connor’s clinching goal.

“It was how we reacted to the penalty,” Shaw said of the key to Derry’s victory on the day.

“If we had let them get on top at that stage it could’ve been a different story. For a split second, it did feel like the drawn game but having that feeling was what drove us on because we didn’t want to do that again and we learned from our mistakes.”

Complacency may have been a factor in Croke Park, but this time it was different. The message was to go for the jugular and press on to the end. The result was an excellent performance on the most important day.

“That is what we were pushing for,” Shaw said. “We were building up to it and we got here today and finally it clicked.”

On the back of All-Ireland success at both u-14 and u-16 level, Saturday’s win is another step as Derry aim to climb the camogie ladder.

“How the seniors did today, that will really push those girls on,” Shaw said. “I think it will maybe encourage other girls who haven’t come out to the county in the last number of years to come out and show what we actually can do.

“It will hopefully encourage the young girls coming up from the minors to join the senior girls and be part of it all.”

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