Hurling and camogie

Derry ace Aoife Quinn back with a passion for county camogie

Slaughtneil Grainne O'Kane competes with Aoife Quinn of Swatragh during the Derry Senior Camogie Championship final at Magherafelt. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Séamas McAleenan

SWATRAGH’S Aoife Quinn missed a good bit of last season completing a PGCE course in Liverpool, but she has returned to action this year with a renewed appetite for county camogie.

“Yes, I am enjoying being back in the Derry panel this year and fighting for a place in the championship team. We have a good panel of players and it is very competitive indeed.

“We didn’t do too badly in the league and we were a little disappointed in losing the quarter-final to Tipperary.

“However when Tipperary then went on and won the league, it put our match into perspective,” explains Aoife who is currently teaching in Ballymacrickett Primary school in Glenavy.

Since the end of the league campaign in early April, the Derry panel has been augmented by the addition of four Slaughtneil players and the possibility of one or two more at the end of June.

“Their arrival has been a big boost to us. They are all very experienced and will bring a lot to the panel.

“Then you have Karen Kielt coming back after injury.

“Again Karen is experienced and the team that takes the field will be the better for their presence.”

“I think Derry would look back on last year with disappointment. There was expectation there and we missed the bus.

“Down seemed to come from nowhere and beat us in the Ulster final. But they proved that they were a good enough team by reaching the All-Ireland final.

“We drew with Down in the group stages of the All-Ireland and really there’s nothing between us. But we also drew with Cork who won the All-Ireland and Laois.

“Had we won just one of those drawn games, we would have made the semi-finals of the All-Ireland.

“Last year was also John Tipp’s (O’Dwyer, the manager) first year in charge. This year he knows us a lot better, knows what way he wants us playing and we really can’t wait to get the games going.”

Derry’s opener in the Ulster series is a semi-final against Down and they don’t come any harder with the winner widely expected to take the title outright.

“It is going to be a very difficult one. Not only are Down a far more confident team than last year after reaching the All-Ireland, but Clonduff then went on to win the club Intermediate title in March.

“Down did well in the league without their Clonduff players and their minors have also done well. We will meet them again in the All-Ireland near the end of July.”

Derry open their All-Ireland campaign with a home game against Laois, then Carlow away and another home match against Wexford before they meet Down for the second showdown of the championship season.

“I know that you cannot take anything for granted, or look too far ahead, but by the time we meet them again, the both of us should be close to clinching All-Ireland semi-final places.

“So Down really are the yard-stick for us this year.”

Is aiming for both the Ulster and All-Ireland titles a realistic aim for the Oak Leaf squad?

“As I said, you cannot look too far ahead. But if you look at all the other counties in the mix, we feel that we are just as good as them.

“Last year we went unbeaten in the All-Ireland series and didn’t reach the semis.

“That taught us that there are fine margins and we have got to learn how to win those tight games that last year ended in draws.”

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Hurling and camogie

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