Recently crowned Purcell Cup champions,
DCU’s camogie side will look to achieve
the double in tonight’s League final.
Emma Brennan and Laura Twomey speak
to Brenda White about a remarkable year
for the college’s stickwomen.
DCU’s camogie team have the chance to make a good year even better as they go in search of a Division 1 league crown this evening.
The Purcell Cup winners have a tough task ahead with Ashbourne Cup finalists UL standing in their way. Captain Laura Twomey expects a tough challenge but believes they have what it takes to win.
“If we ever had a chance to win it then this is the year”, she said. “If you look at ourselves, we have such a strong squad physically. We’ll just take each half as they come. ”
Emma Brennan, the side’s ever-influential centre-back, says that DCU are ready for the task at hand.
“It’s a big final, I can’t wait. We’re up for it, up for this challenge and we’ll give it a go and see what happens. It would be brilliant but the performance will be important.”
Off the back of their stunning Purcell Cup campaign, both Emma and Laura are settling back into college life after the celebrations of their achievement.
Twelve months previous, the girls were on the losing side as they were defeated in the final by Queens University Belfast. That defeat was the perfect motivation to push on and go one better this season.
“It definitely spurred us on,” Emma said. “Especially when we played them in the first round and of the championship and beat them well.
“We had actually knocked them out last year so we knew they were going to be tough opposition.”
A semi-final game saw NUI Maynooth take a one-point lead into the break with DCU yet to get into full flow. Both girls admitted that they knew the performance needed to improve.
“I think we realised ‘this is an all Ireland semi-final’, maybe we tuned in a bit better,” said the centre-back. “We felt like a different team in the second half, even at half-time we knew we weren’t playing that well.”
“When we got in at half time we knew we hadn’t performed,” Laura added. “Maybe it was nerves. We knew we had to perform and have a bit more hunger. We gave them too much respect.”
Brennan scored 1-8 in the semi final and was delighted with her contribution. “Yeah, a lot of them were frees though. I just happen to be the one taking the frees and luckily they went over.”
Having beaten Maynooth in the semi-final, a place against Queens lay ahead the following day, but the girls explained that Saturday evening was about relaxing ahead of the big game.
“We relaxed a bit and had a recovery session,” Laura explained. “We stayed together as a team and we had a team meeting that evening. We had so much going for us.”
Emma explained that they tried not to over-think ahead of the match and that losing never entered the mind.
“The evening after the Maynooth game, we just kind of relaxed a bit, we didn’t think too much, it was really the Sunday morning when we began to really think about it. I don’t think you really want to over-think it.
“I personally felt when we got on the bus on Sunday for Waterford that losing wasn’t an option, I felt very confident in the team and what the management were going to do.”
Both girls were part of the team that lost out last season, but the thoughts of losing two in a row were never on the agenda.
“When we beat them in the first round, that got that out of our heads,” Emma said. “It then just became an All Ireland final against an opposition, but they were two tough games in two days.”
DCU led the final of the Purcell Cup against Queens 2-4 to 0-4 at half time and their opponents score never changed from that point on. Captain Laura was delighted, paying great credit to her whole team, not just the 15 on the field.
“It was great to stop them scoring but everyone was great. Our backs were great and our forwards were great, especially Orlaith Durken. This wasn’t just 15 girls, this was the whole 30 girls together.”
Despite a fantastic performance over the weekend, contributing crucial scores and a haul of 2-12, Emma was quick to turn praise away from herself and onto her team mates.
“Yeah, I’m very happy, but mostly happy for the team and for everyone involved. Again I think that the frees I was taking, anyone could have taken them. I wouldn’t take any sort of recognition.”
The final important part of this DCU camogie team was the coaching staff. Both Emma and Laura were full of praise for their coaching team and believe winning the Purcell Cup was down to their brilliant preparation. Niall Williams, Graham Dillon, Stephen Behan and Marty Whelan were all involved in the preparation of the team.
“They’ve been a huge influence and this year we got a few new guys in, we’ve had Niall for the last couple of years and the new guys really made a difference”, Emma said.
“Niall has been there for three years and he has been instrumental to us, we really couldn’t ask for anymore”, Laura, added. “Everything was planned completely, the timing of everything and the structure of the weekend. He really drove us on from the line in the games.
“He knows each player and knows what to say to them. There was no negativity, it was all being positive and it really drove the girls on.”
Captain Laura is sure of the potential of the team. “We’ll only lose one of two next year. This team can go places now.”