Tuesday 24 April 2018

Team leader Dervan keen to kick-start new era for Galway


Galway's Sarah Dervan is well qualified for the role of veteran
Galway's Sarah Dervan is well qualified for the role of veteran

Daragh Ó Conchúir

Becoming a veteran of the Galway panel has crept up on Sarah Dervan. It doesn't feel right at 27 to be placed in that bracket but the panel has undergone an overhaul in the past 18 months, as a number of long-serving players called time on stellar careers.

In truth, Dervan is well qualified for the role. In her professional life, she is a team leader with Ballybrit-based medical technology company, Medtronic.

Pointing the way, ensuring everyone is happy and focused, dealing with issues that arise, fostering a good culture, emphasising the group over the individual and the importance of everyone pulling the one way. As it is at work, so it is on the pitch. A happy, dedicated environment is a fruitful one. Of course she is hugely respected as a player because actions speak loudest. A daughter of Jackie, who was an All-Ireland hurling winner in the historic Galway panel of 1980, and sister of former senior hurlers Conor and Cathal, she was a natural with the camán, evidenced by winning the Féile skills in 2001.

She won an intermediate All-Ireland with Galway in 2009 and has been a regular on the senior team since, starring when they ended years of heartache for the county at Croke Park in 2013. Unsurprisingly, she earned an All-Star for her efforts that year.

Last year, Dervan was a driving force as Mullagh upset the odds time and again to win the county championship and reach the All-Ireland club final last March. That ended disappointingly at the hands of Oulart-The Ballagh but Dervan's efforts earned her the Galway Bay FM Sports Personality of the Year award for 2014. They also got her the vice-captaincy of the Galway squad.

"This year started out as a bit of a dampner for me when we were beaten well in the All-Ireland club final. But it was good to get back in with Galway. We're very young now after a lot of retirements, which makes me one of the more experienced heads, which is kind of frightening. The skill and pace that the young ones have is unbelievable and they seem to be taking to it to like a duck to water. It took me a year or two to get up to speed.

"You have Emma Kilkenny and Susan (Earner) as the oldest now, then it's down to myself and Molly Dunne. Then it's the likes of Niamh McGrath and then way down to Orlaith (McGrath) and a few others."

There was pressure in being defending champions last year and while they fought to stave off any loss in appetite that might result from the realisation of a long-held dream, the likelihood is that it just wasn't at the same level. The retirement of the talismanic Therese Maher was felt keenly too but now there is an infusion of young talent, particularly in attack, and the blend with the likes of Dervan, Earner, Niamh Kilkenny and Lorraine Ryan is very effective.

"This is a new era for Galway camogie and we'll take every game as it comes. Thankfully we've had a good run of it. I wasn't there for the Limerick game or the Tipp game (because of club commitments). I came in for the Offaly game and after getting a good lead, we nearly let it slip again but we got a goal and drove on," she says.

"Every game is focussed on performance rather than the result. We're working well, our forwards are moving well. We have a young team and we'll have our work cut out for us against Cork. Cork in a final is never good! They always seem to come out the right side of it but we'll concentrate on reaching our performance levels and hopefully that will be good enough."

Irish Independent

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