Saturday 17 March 2018

Kilkenny a step up for Dubs, admits Maher


Aisling Maher of Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile
Aisling Maher of Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile

Daragh ó Conchúir

The story of the improving fortunes of Dublin camogie is multi-layered but is rooted in vision and the installation of improved structures.

The seniors' appearance in a first Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final since 1990 at the Gaelic Grounds today (5.15pm) is just the latest signal of the graph's upward spiral, with the second string already booked into the Premier Junior final at Croke Park next month.

Even more significantly, the minors and U-16s reached the last four of their campaigns, suggesting that there is a conveyor belt of talent coming through to ensure depth, particularly with many of the All-Ireland U-16-winning team of 2012 - the Dubs' first win at that grade in 30 years - now graduating.

Nothing works unless the right people are put in place however and David Herity has been lauded deservedly for his role in taking the seniors to the next level.

He would be the first to say that he is building on the work of his predecessor Shane O'Brien however. O'Brien brought about a change in culture, establishing a high performance environment that included bringing Herity into the fold last year.

The Cuala man removed the excuses for non-performance and players responded to being treated as serious athletes by becoming ones. "He changed everything up completely," says Dublin's leading scorer Aisling Maher.

"It became a much more professional set-up. It was a change to players' lifestyle. It wasn't just going down and training a few nights a week and trying to put in the effort and commitment for a couple of hours each night at training. He very much changed players' attitude to try and act like an athlete."

Results improved, ambition was raised and when O'Brien stepped away after two years, Herity took on the mantle. The five-time All-Ireland winner with Kilkenny had already had a significant impact and Maher is effusive in her praise of the former goalkeeper.

"David's been fantastic. He has had the experience himself at the very top level and he knows what it takes. He knows the difference between winning an All-Ireland and losing it, how small the margins are."

Maher, who turns 22 in November, is facing into her final year of medicinal chemistry at Trinity College. Combining her studies with her camogie commitments can be testing at times but the articulate St Vincent's markswoman, who has been part of the senior squad for five years, insists it is all about finding the right blend.

It is tunnel vision now though. The players and management didn't have much time to bask in the glow of the "massive achievement" of beating Wexford by seven points in the quarter-final at Semple Stadium, with just a fortnight before taking on the mammoth task of facing up to Kilkenny.

"Kilkenny will be another step up again," says Maher. "What we did the last day won't be good enough but we don't plan on performing at that same level. We'll be looking at what we can do to bring out our best performance and push on another level."

Irish Independent

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