St. Dominic’s camogie manager Noel White said last Saturday’s 1-8 to 0-2 All-Ireland Junior Championship semi-final defeat to Wicklow champions Knockananna is part of a steep learning curve for his players.
Speaking to People Sport this week, Noel said the change of venue from Kinnegad to the all-weather pitch at St. Loman’s in Mullingar was a factor in his side’s slow start.
“Everything is a learning experience for us. I said it to the girls before last Saturday that we were going to learn a lot about them,” he said.
“On the Astro pitch we knew we’d be a little lighter because we knew that Knockananna would bring physicality and fitness from their involvement in football with Tinahealy.
“We’d no real experience on AstroTurf but thought if we could master things like lifting the ball when it’s running away from you on the hard surface, our speed would kick in and give us a great chance”.
An early Knockananna goal was a huge blow to the Roscommon side but so too was the loss of Michelle Rogers, just days before the tie.
“Michelle was a huge loss and it meant that we had to bring a wing-forward into the backs and that was hard on her because she had no real experience of playing there,” Noel said.
“The loss of Susan Spillane in midfield was also a blow. Susan brings a level of steel and calmness to the midfield and wins an awful lot of really dirty ball”.
While last Saturday was a disappointment for the Knockcroghery side, Noel says he’s satisfied with the club’s progress overall this season.
“We met our initial targets. First and foremost, we wanted to bring a senior title back to the club and we did that. Our sole focus was that title so we’re delighted with that,” he said.
“When you win your county title then your aspirations kick in and that’s when you begin to dream (about All-Ireland titles). We’ve learned lots and lots of lessons and we really hope to use them in the New Year”.
Noel, who is also St. Dominic’s camogie chairperson and is involved with a number of teams both at club and county level, had high praise for his backroom team.
“We couldn’t have done it without Joe Dolan and Deirdre Walsh. Deirdre is just fantastic with how she liaises with the players and those players would run through walls for Joe,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to the Christmas break but hopefully we’ll be back at it again in the New Year and I’m excited about some of the talent coming through”.