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'The Ashbourne Cup Was The Springboard To My Whole Camogie Career'

Pictured is former Wexford camogie player and Electric Ireland Ashbourne Cup winner with UCD, Mags D’Arcy as she looks ahead to the Electric Ireland Camogie Third Level Championships Finals weekend which takes place in UCD. Photo credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Mags D'Arcy has fond memories of playing camogie for UCD in the Electric Ireland Ashbourne Cup. "Both on and off the field," she says with a smile.

The four-time All-Ireland winning goalkeeper won third level camogie's top tier competition in 2007 and 2008.

"It was a great time in my life," the Wexford legend tells Balls.

"It's a great weekend because it not only kickstarts the whole camogie calendar for the year, it allows you to meet up with friends of old, not just about the craic you had off the field, but the matches that you played in.

"For me, the Ashbourne was the springboard to my whole camogie career. It made me, without doubt, a more mentally strong player, and individual. You're in the midst of winter hurling, and there's no place to hide. You're playing against your peers from all different counties.

"When I was playing, I was lucky enough to play on a team of galacticos with the likes of Mary and Una Leacy, Rena Buckley, Mairead Luttrell...

"Their families were as much craic as they were. You know you can go to any county in the country, pick up the phone, and it'll be a girl from the Ashbourne team on the other line able to meet up for a coffee."


mags darcy ucd ashbourne cup camogie

24 February 2008; The University College Dublin panel celebrate with the Ashbourne cup. 2008 Ashbourne Cup Final, University College Dublin v Waterford IT, Casement Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

In the 2008 final against WIT, D'Arcy came up against her Wexford teammate Ursula Jacob. The two sides also met in the 2009 decider with WIT emerging victorious to claim the first of five consecutive titles. D'Arcy still looks back on the latter as a game UCD should have won.


"I think we collided on one occasion early on in the game," D'Arcy says about the 2008 match.


"Sometimes you encourage your keepers to come a little bit off the line to always be active and present if a ball comes in over the top. On that occasion, I probably sprinted 24 yards to get out to the ball, and she was oncoming, and we collided.

"At the time, you're looking at each other going, 'What are you doing?' I would have come up against a few Wexford heads, which was fun."


'Camogie has changed'

Prior to UCD's victory in 2007, they had lost four finals in a row. The more senior players on the side knew they had to bring their younger teammates inside their circle to create strong bond.

"We would have had the old table quiz with a bottle of Lucozade! Put it that way!" says D'Arcy.

"When you're in college, you have to fundraise to make it what you want it to be. You're given a certain amount for the year, but if you want to go out and get your gear, or go away on these bonding days, then you have to do a bit of fundraising in the background. That leads to greater integration as a team."


This weekend's Electric Ireland Camogie Third Level Championships finals take place at UCD. D'Arcy - who works as communications manager at the South Dublin campus - will be a keen spectator.

"The game has changed," she says.

"Before, it was nearly territory camogie, hitting the ball as far as you can into the other side of the field, and then working it for a score.


"I've been at some of the games over the last few weeks, and the speed with which they work the ball through the lines, and the press, is definitely faster. The game has definitely sped up. Sometimes, the conditions, the pitch, are not conducive to that. You have to adapt as you go along."

This year, through its #FirstClassRivals campaign, Electric Ireland celebrated the unexpected alliances formed between county rivals as they come together in pursuit of some of the most coveted titles across Camogie and GAA.

See Also: 'The Fact You Only Have Four Years Does Make It Extra Special'

mags darcy ucd ashbourne cup camogie




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