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Sweet memories and optimism for Sheila

HOME from home for Sheila Wallace, back in her beloved Croke Park last week, writes Niall Scully.

She knows the texture of the wall-paper. She spent 22 years in HQ as camogie's director-general.

Much of the initiatives of camogie's revolution came under her watch, and through her vision.

But it's still the first bus out of Dalkey on a Sunday morning that carries the sweetest memories of all.

"We'd spend every Sunday in the Phoenix Park. We'd be there all day," explained Sheila.

"We'd have our own match to play, but we'd also watch all the other games. It was brilliant meeting everybody there.

"Nell McCarthy was an inspiration to us. And we were on first name terms with the Dublin players.

"We were so influenced by such great players like Sophie Brack, who came from around the same area as myself. The park was a marvellous place to be," stated Sheila, who went on to captain her native county.

She was one of the most polished defenders in the sport. No forward ever had a picnic at Sheila's expense.

Her CV includes keeping Mairead McAtamney and Angela Downey scoreless, two of the sport's legends who were on the Team of the Century.

Sheila was on the management crew that steered Dublin to their last O'Duffy Cup success in 1984.

She'd dearly love to see the Blues back on the big stage. And she's happy that the game she loves is on the right road.

"There are 13 full-time staff now in the association, and that's marvellous," she said. "The game will grow and progress, and I feel the volunteers, as they have always done, will play a huge role in that continued development."