Energetic contribution of Crokes star adding to summer campaign
THE memory is still fresh. Issy Davis was on the bus. The Dublin bus, heading to Croke Park.
Coming up through Fairview. On to the Clonliffe Road. Turning left at the shop.
In through the big gates, the barrier lifted. A turn to the right and the bus slowly edges its way to the dressing-room door under the Cusack Stand.
It was Dublin against Down. In Division 1 of the Littlewoods Ireland Division 1 League. A March double-header with Dessie Farrell’s Dubs playing Donegal.
“It was such a big day for us,” recalls Issy. “Getting to play in Croke Park. It meant so much.
“It’s not often you get that opportunity. And it gives you that feeling of importance. A feeling of professionalism.
“Travelling on the bus, going under the tunnel of the Cusack Stand. And then running out onto Croke Park. It was just wonderful.”
Those are the days that children dream of. Issy always enjoyed sport. “I played most sports, but camogie is the one I stuck at,” she explains.
“It was my mother that encouraged me. I began at Kilmacud Crokes when I was six. I began playing when I was in senior infants at Mount Anville.”
Crokes are now up with the big girls. “We won Division 2 in 2019. That was my first year playing for the senior team.
“Division 1 is very strong. It’s all about getting a foothold there and competing well.”
Issy will be on the bus again this Saturday, going down to Wexford. For Dublin’s crucial game in Group 1 of the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Championship.
She’ll be hoping that many Dublin followers will travel. “It’s so encouraging to see how the profile of women’s sport has changed.
“Even walking around Stillorgan, you’d see young girls carrying their hurls. You wouldn’t have seen that years ago.”
Issy has been having a fruitful summer. She has seen game-time in all of Dublin’s four Championship matches.
She came on against Waterford at Walsh Park in the opening fixture. And she again left the bench versus Tipperary in Parnell Park.
She started against Cork in the next match at St Peregrine’s and again away to Clare the last day in Cusack Park.
She has made an impressive impact with her quick feet and energetic contribution. She is also versatile. Against Cork, she was right half-back. For the game in Clare, she wore the number 15.
“It’s a very good set-up in the Dublin camp,” she says. “It’s very well organised.
“There’s a lot of competition for places. We are all focused on progressing. Trying to keep improving and performing well against all the different counties.”
The deeds in the league lifted the spirits going into the championship. “We have got some good results. It’s all about making as much progress as we can.”
A GAME that contains all the appeal of strawberries and cream. As Dublin manager, Adrian O’Sullivan, remarks: “It’s winner take all. It should be a cracker.”
It’s the Dubs against Wexford on Saturday on the banks of the Slaney. A place at stake in the quarter-final of the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Championship.
Cork have already secured their ticket to the last four. But the real intrigue in Group 1 lies in the two quarter-final places on offer. Waterford, Dublin, Tipperary and Wexford are all in with a chance.
Waterford are on six points. Dublin and Tipp are on five, while Wexford have three points. It’s three points for a win.
It all couldn’t be tighter. And there will be no lack of drama on the last day. Tipp go to Cork, while Waterford are in Clare. It will be all eyes on the ball. And all ears to the radio.
“Yes, it’s all to play for,” acknowledges Adrian, who has admired the work of Wexford manager Kevin Tattan. “He’s done very well since he came in. He got them to Division 1 and they were in the All-Ireland quarter-final last year.”
IT’S good to wake up to the sunshine on a Saturday morning. The sports show on Sunshine Radio (106.8), Dublin’s Talking Sport. With Ken Doherty and Reggie Corrigan. It throws in at 8.30am.
Declan Drake hosts the GAA slot. Seán Lane has been his trusty co-pilot and is a big fan of the Dublin camogie team. He has commended their progress this term, highlighting the excellence of their defending.
Last week, Declan put a call into Sarah O’Donovan. Of Cork and the Dubs. And now of Naomh Mearnóg. “We are just after coming off the pitch here in Portmarnock,” she revealed. “We had an 8.0am training session.”
Sarah is also full of praise for Dublin’s deeds this term. And she’ll be hoping they can advance to the All-Ireland quarter-final.
“Going down to Wexford will not be an easy task,” outlines Dublin boss Adrian O’Sullivan. “But we have played well on the road this year. We won in Waterford and we drew in Clare.
“We’ll be up for the challenge. There’s real heart in the squad. It’s a wonderful group to be involved with. They are so committed to the jersey, and against Clare the last day, they battled for everything.
“We could have won the game, but the main thing is that we are still in the Championship, and our future is in our own hands, which is what you want.”
Dublin will be hoping that Aisling O’Neill can pocket another cluster of scores. Her goal in Clare was a work of art.
She follows the bible of the great Davy Billings. Of St Vincent’s and the Dubs.
Aisling did her Leaving Cert this summer, but she still pulled on the Dublin jersey. When he was in UCD, Dave always encouraged his students to combine the best medicine – study and sport.
One complemented the other and UCD’s success on and off the pitch proved it. This Saturday’s exam paper is quite the puzzle. Full of ifs, buts and maybes.