Sunday 20 January 2019

Dalton's focus sharpened ahead of bid for more glory

Kilkenny’s Ann Dalton
Kilkenny’s Ann Dalton

Daragh Ó Conchúir

It is hard to believe it now, given her enduring brilliance and renowned seriousness for preparation and playing, but Anne Dalton turned down two invitations to step up to the Kilkenny senior camogie panel. The time wasn't right.

First time around, she was 16, immersed in St Lachtains' remarkable All-Ireland three-in-a-row and stressed enough trying to get time off from her summer job for the club without adding to it.

Two years later, there was the Kilkenny's All-Ireland minor-winning crusade, and having completed her Leaving Cert, having the craic.

"I was focused on having a good summer and it was the best decision I ever made," she says. "Camogie is camogie and I love it but that was my last summer before I went into it properly. It was the best summer of my life!"

Hindsight informs us that it was a mature call, the foundation for an 11-year career that has so far yielded five All-Stars and a coveted senior All-Ireland.

Her magnificence as sweeper was pivotal as Kilkenny ended a 22-year wait for All-Ireland glory in 2016. Dalton will be 30 next month and while still operating at the peak of her powers, enjoying her recent return to midfield, she acknowledges that time is against her. And that has sharpened her focus.

"I'm looking at the league final and I'm thinking it could be the last knockout game I'm playing and that could be the case for anyone. You could get an injury. But with age, there's no chance to it. It's time coming."

It may well be but Dalton will be a key figure in tomorrow's televised Division 1 final against Cork at Nowlan Park (1.30pm) where she will hope to keep retirement thoughts at bay with more silverware.

Irish Independent

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