By Michael McMullan
DERRY’S win over Wexford was a “boost” but Aoife Shaw insists there is still more work to do with the All-Ireland series in full swing.
Their next outing is around the corner with Saturday’s trip to Netwatch Dr Cullen Park (1pm) to take on Carlow who drew with Antrim in their first game. A goal from Orlaith Hull put Derry four points clear with Shaw and joint-captain Áine McAllister also on target.
Shaw and McAllister added scores during Derry’s powerful third quarter that saw PJ O’Mullan’s side on their way to a 2-17 to 0-7 win.
“The win over Wexford was definitely a boost but we aren’t getting ahead of ourselves,” Shaw said of their opening day win. “We still have things to work on and will take it game by game. But yeah, the mood has been good at training and we’ll be looking forward to the game.”
Derry came into the All-Ireland series after being edged out by Antrim in the Ulster Championship. In the league, they were only the puck of the ball away from Meath and Kerry who contested the league final.
Shaw said missing out on the final, and the chance of following Down and Antrim into Division One camogie next season, was “disappointing.”
“I think we have learnt a lot from the league and have been able to build on it as a team leading into the championship.” Shaw added.
Derry have to go back 11 years for their last All-Ireland Intermediate title when they needed a replay to see off Galway. From that team, current vice-captain Aoife Ní Chaiside is the sole survivor as they bit to put their best foot forward in this year’s campaign. Since then, Down (2018) and Antrim (2019) both lost finals before going one better and are now pitting themselves against the best senior camogie has to offer.
In an interview with Gaelic Life last month, Down ‘keeper Catherine McGourty spoke of how competitive Ulster’s big three are. Shaw agrees.
“Yeah, I don’t think we are too far off Antrim or Down,” she stated. “Our Ulster Championship game with Antrim went down to the last few minutes there last month. It was disappointing to not come away with a result in the end.”
The Oakleaf girls will hope the learnings will be something they can take into their Carlow test and the final group game against Antrim.
Steering the Derry ship is O’Mullan, Loughgiel’s All-Ireland hurling manager of 2012 who won senior camogie titles with the Shamrock’s and an historic first Derry Championship with Sleacht Néill in 2012.
“The management and the backroom team have made it a more professional set up for us this year,” Shaw said. “There’s a good bond and level of trust between the players and management this year which always helps.”