O’Mullan: Derry camogs want to test themselves against the very best

By Niall Gartland

TWO recent final defeats certainly haven’t dampened the spirits of the Derry camogs, who begin their All-Ireland Senior Championship campaign against neighbours Antrim this Saturday at Cushendall.

PJ O’Mullan’s side fell narrowly short against the Saffrons in the Ulster Senior Championship final just a matter of weeks ago, and it was only the other month that they came out on the losing side of their Division Two final against Westmeath.

But those defeats haven’t detracted from the fact that Derry have made significant strides in the last 12 months, and they can’t wait to have a crack at the All-Ireland Senior Championship having claimed honours at Intermediate level last year.

The Loughgiel native said: “We’ve played Down and Antrim, both established Senior Championship teams and have done well. We’re hoping those games will bring us on and we should learn a lot in the upcoming campaign.

“There’ll probably be a few defeats along the road but it should be a great experience and you want to test yourself against the best teams in the country, and hopefully we pick up a victory or two on the way.”

Derry will be hoping it’s a case of second time lucky having lost out by 1-11 to 0-11 in their recent Ulster Championship meeting. O’Mullan says revenge is hardly the motivating factor but they’ll still want to show that they’ve learnt from their provincial defeat.

“There wasn’t really anything between the two teams, Antrim got the goal and we didn’t execute some of our chances. We’re not doing badly, we’ve been in three finals in less than 12 months so it’s definitely positive for Derry camogie.

“We’re just trying to learn from the last day, to see where we can improve. That’s what we’ve been working on, hopefully we’ve learnt enough and hopefully the girls can take on board what we’ve been trying to do. If that happens then I think we’ve a good chance of getting the points.”

Derry have been spoiled with success at underage level and with St Patrick’s, Maghera recently, but O’Mullan says it’s crucial to the overall operation that their elder players stick around to show the way to the younger brigade.

“You have Aoife Ní Chaiside, Áine Barton and Dervla O’Kane, they’ve given great service to Derry camogie.

“Then we have a few more Sleacht Néill girls in as well, like Ceát McEldowney, and the schools are competing and winning All-Irelands at B and C level. Derry won an All-Ireland u-16 last year, the minors got beat an in All-Ireland semi-final at ‘A’ level, the schools are flying.

“So it’s all there for them but you need that mix of youth and experience, you can’t just throw in a bunch of u-18s into the senior team and hope it goes well. The experienced girls owe Derry camogie nothing but it’d be great if they can stay around the senior panel for another couple of years.”

Geraldines Portglenone are celebrating 80 years of camogie this weekend. Check out a feature interview with Maire Doherty and Mairead Magill…


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