Shaw delighted as Oakleafers’ senior campaign goes according to plan

By Niall Gartland

WITH their All-Ireland Senior status secured for 2025, Derry camog Aoife Shaw says the pressure is well and truly off for the remainder of their group stage campaign.

Precious victories over Antrim and Limerick in recent weeks have ensured that All-Ireland Senior newcomers Derry will avoid the relegation play-offs, but they’ll still want to give a good account of themselves in their penultimate group stage clash away to Kilkenny on Saturday.

It’s a continued learning experience for the Oakleafers, who justified their promotion from the intermediate ranks with a stellar showing to date in the highest echelons of the camogie world, spearheaded by players like dual star Shaw.

She commented: “We’d targeted the Limerick and Antrim games, so it was a great lift to get over the line and secure our senior status for next year. The last two group games will be a hard challenge, but we have nothing to lose. We’re safe now so we can give it a good rattle.

“The speed of the game and the physicality is a big step up from last year so we’re pleased with how it’s all going.”

Shaw had a memorable year in both club and county colours in 2023. With Derry, she rescued a draw for the side with a late converted free in the All-Ireland Intermediate final against Meath, and they finished the job in a replay at Clones.

On the club front, she represents Lavey, who boast a proud tradition in the camogie. But they have taken ladies football to their hearts as well, and won the Ulster Intermediate Championship in only their second year of fielding at adult level with a dramatic win against Donegal side Dungloe back in November.

It wasn’t all plain-sailing for Shaw on a personal level as she broke her finger in the first round of the club camogie championships, an injury that required having a splint inserted for two months.

She missed the remainder of their camogie campaign but made a timely return in the Derry ladies final, coming on as a sub against Foreglen, and subsequently played a full role as they snared provincial honours.

Shaw said: “We had a great season for club football last year. Myself and a few other girls picked up injuries that set us back in the camogie, but with the football being on a bit later we had more time to recover for the knock-out stages.

“Our club has the schedule very well balanced but it’s still hard playing dual for the club when you’re playing intercounty as well.

“The Derry final was my first competitive ladies game so it was hard to get into the swing of playing a different sport having not played all year.”

But her own personal injury problems aside it was still a brilliant year for the club, as she acknowledged.

“It’s been a great lift for everyone in the club, to go from starting a team three years ago to winning Ulster and being promoted to Division One of the league.

“Our u-14 girls won the All-Ireland Féile last year and that’s a great boost as well, that there’s a new generation coming through as well.”

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