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Camogie: Dublin vital to game's future

CAMOGIE'S First Lady... Joan O'Flynn. She played for London Irish -- but not the rugby team.

They were the first London side to play representative camogie 21 years ago.

Joan is in her opening year as camogie president, and she keeps an eye on all sports, but camogie, as always, tops the bill.

In Centenary Year, 2004, she wrote a history of Kildare camogie: Soaring Sliotar. And she feels the standards in the game are going through the roof.

"The profile and appeal of camogie have also risen enormously. It's an exciting time to be president, and it's a great privilege for me to be leading the Association in the next couple of years."

Joan played with Fr O'Neill's in her native East Cork and also for Celbridge in Kildare, where she now lives. Her CV as a camogie legislator is packed with experience.

She insists that Dublin have a central role to play in the game's future. "Dublin has always been a stronghold of camogie. And it's so important in the overall scheme of things.

"The population is vast. So many young people live there and there are so many changing settlement patterns around Dublin.

"You have so many new suburbs. Areas like Adamstown and Tyrrelstown spring to mind straight away.


"It's vital to get camogie, and indeed Gaelic games, established in these locations, right from the nursery level up.

"That would see the children growing up with sport in their communities and, from our point of view, we'd love to see these people stay with camogie in a lifelong way."

And, like all, Joan is looking forward to the rebirth of the Blues.

"It's not all that far away. They are adjusting to the senior level and this will be their third year back up now.

"So much work is being done in the clubs and in the schools throughout the county that it won't be too long before Dublin are up there making a big impression.

"There will be more bite in the Championship this season. The format now sees every senior team playing each other in the first round.

"I think that will work well, and the final outcome of the group mightn't be as predictable as people think.

"With the quality improving all the time, the Championship will be much more competitive, and that's what you want.

"The Senior Championship is, of course, the showcase of the game, but the Intermediate and Junior Championships also offer much.

"Last season we had Roscommon and Offaly making the breakthrough to win All-Ireland's, so that freshens things up."

As for the Dublin renaissance -- well, to all and sundry, that would be very much like a breath of fresh air.