CORK begin their All-Ireland championship campaign this Sunday against visiting Dublin.
You wouldn’t expect Dublin to be a threat to Cork but what they will bring is huge work-rate and a determined challenge.
Adrian O’Sullivan was appointed as the new Dublin senior camogie manager back in January, replacing Cuala’s John Treacy who was in charge for just one campaign.
What many teams have pointed to as a reason for the lack of success has been the turnover of managers in recent years.
The likes of Cork, Galway and Kilkenny have continuity, and it shows. It takes time to get to know the personalities of your squad both on and off the field and certainly time to develop a game plan that works for you and plays to your strengths.
What is noteworthy is that O’Sullivan has been appointed for a three-year term alongside Donie Fox and Sarah O’Donovan. And that’s great to hear.
O’Sullivan led UL to back-to-back Ashbourne Cups in 2018 and 2019, while he worked as hurling coach with Westmeath (2016, 2017) and Kildare (2019) under Joe Quaid.
He won an All-Ireland Minor A camogie championship title with Limerick in 2014, their first ever, and the intermediate championship with Limerick and Kilkenny in 2014 and 2016 O’Sullivan coached Thomastown to the Kilkenny senior camogie title in 2020 and was coach as Clonkill won the senior hurling championship crown in Westmeath the year before.
He has undoubtedly earned his coaching badge.
Adrian knows his camogie. He was the lead in what was a great podcast calledwhich previewed and reviewed championship games and picked their All-Star team for 2020.
Fox is the head coach. He has a deep background in GAA, having represented both Galway and Dublin in hurling.
He is the current manager and head coach of St Jude’s senior camogie team and is the current Athletic Development officer for St Jude’s where his role oversees the education of coaches and the implementation of athletic development practices club-wide.
O’Donovan has a long involvement with camogie with Cork and Dublin winning All-Ireland titles. It was a surprise Dublin faced a league final relegation battle with Waterford. But with a non-training winter and early spring they had literally no time to get to know each other.
They would have been happy with their opening league encounter with Kilkenny, where they lost by just five points to the All-Ireland champions in a very low-scoring game; 1-8 to 0-6.
Their leaking of four goals cost them dearly against Offaly where they scored 15 times, 1-14 and conceded 11 but four of them were goals, 4-7. Adrian wants to play top opposition, even in challenge games, to ensure his side are always learning and feeling the heat against the big guns.
A drop down to intermediate level would have been a massive disappointment so they were obviously over the moon to secure a winning point on 60 minutes to maintain their Division 1 status for 2022. Their group and relegation run gave them four games.
You have to admire Adrian’s belief in the job at hand and the respect he is showing it, referring to the Dublin job being the biggest job in camogie. He explains why.
"Yeah a few people rolled their eyes when I said that, but Dublin are second in the Roll of Honour with 26 titles.
"Ok, it’s been a while since they’ve won anything but they’ve a rich heritage and are only a generation away from that.
"A lot of these girls’ mothers, aunts and grandmothers at a stretch would have been involved in these All-Ireland winning teams and I suppose we want to tap into that and give the giant a poke and wake it up a little bit.
"There are four senior adult teams in Dublin and two of them are the All-Ireland champions (both football titles). We want to tap into the winning culture that’s in Dublin and that we’re surrounded by."
They’ll travel with the intent to win the game of course and take it minute by minute. But in truth, a good performance and obvious progress is what will put a smile on their faces heading home.