Gallery eyes on bigger picture

Niall Scully

WHEN the sliotar lands in Elaine Gallery's yard, she doesn't need to ask what to do with it. She'd never consult a Google map regarding the best route to goal. She always favours the short cut to paradise.

She is one of those forwards that is comfortable in possession. And once she has the ball in her grasp, defenders might as well phone a friend.

These days, Elaine is the pride of Portobello. She led Dublin to the National League Division 4 title. The goodwill texts stretched the length of the Rathmines Road.

"Personally, it means an awful lot to me to be captain of the side that brought back that trophy to Dublin. It was very special.

"Yet, the most important thing is that it has been a big boost to Dublin camogie. I feel there is so much potential in the capital. It's now a matter of getting on with it, getting to finals and bringing home more silverware."

Next up for the Blues is the Leinster Championship, which is a standalone competition, and then the All-Ireland Championship.

"It's all about getting back to the drawing board and working hard in training. The league win has increased our confidence ahead of the championship.

"All year, we have trained hard. The squad has been very well prepared. Now it's a matter of keeping that going."

Elaine salutes the management unit of Gerry McGough, Brendan Cooper, Sandra Tarr, Martina McGilloway, Dave Dunning and Colm Berkeley.

"We were lucky to have such a backroom team. They were tremendous. They were willing to put so much time in, and that is a huge advantage for any squad.

"The priority for us now is to keep the morale high in the panel. We have to push on from what we have achieved. We have plenty of young players in the group. If we can keep them interested, and we can maintain a high level of intensity in training, we'll be okay."

Elaine stresses that the sight of silver can turn a girl's eyes to gold.

"You have Dublin players going back to their clubs with a National League medal. That has to be a fantastic feeling. It will spur on all the other players in the clubs. It will give them the ambition to try and get on a county panel.

"Then with Dublin hosting the National Féile, it's the ideal platform for bringing the trophy around to all the schools. It's another brilliant way of advertising camogie in Dublin.

"There's so many young girls playing camogie now in the county.

"Sometimes, people can give up sport when they reach their teens, but with a bit of silverware on show, it might just give them the encouragement to stick with it."

Elaine's guile near the kitchen door is a handful for any rearguard, but she admits, she has her limits!

"I wouldn't be able to be a goalkeeper for any kind of money. Our 'keeper, Stephanie Carthy, is so brave. She is a fantastic goalie. She is very consistent and her puck-out is a big asset for us as well."

Yet, even Super Steph would have to be at her sharpest to stop a Gallery rasper. When Elaine lets fly, even the dartboards begin to duck.