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'We Potentially Have Two Games To Create History In Waterford Camogie'

The Waterford team before the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor A Camogie Championship game against Dublin. Photo credit: Eddie Dee Photography
By PJ Browne Updated
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With his side eight points down midway through the first half of their crucial Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor A Camogie Championship clash with Tipperary last weekend, Waterford manager Mark English made some tweaks.

Those changes began to work, and the Deise went in at the break having reduced the deficit by two. Half-time gave English and his management team a chance to impart some words of advice, and for the players to remind themselves about the fleeting nature of camogie at this level.

"We went into the dressing room, regathered ourselves, and reminded ourselves that it was some of the girls' last time playing minor and we were not letting that be our last match. It gave us more determination and drive to go out," says Waterford fullback Melanie Buck, one of those nearing graduation from minor level.

Tipperary hit the first point of the second half but from there on, it was virtually all Waterford. They scored 1-10 in the final 20 minutes, winning 1-14 to 2-9.

The game, the last of this year's group stage, was a winner-takes-all encounter. The victory sealed a place for Waterford in this weekend's All-Ireland semi-finals where they join Cork, Galway, and their opponents, Kilkenny.


It was a campaign of ups and downs for Waterford, one which began with a defeat to Galway but was followed by a win against reigning All-Ireland champions Cork. They also lost to Kilkenny by a goal on a rain-sodden day at De La Salle's Cleaboy Road grounds, beat Dublin and finally Tipperary to take third place in the group.

"We travelled up to Galway and it resulted in a seven-point defeat but there was still loads of positive stuff we took away from that match," says Mark English.

We knew what we had to do. We got back training on the Tuesday night, worked on some aspects that left us down on the day, and drove it on from there.

We played a home game against Cork the week after, and it resulted in a seven-point win for us that day. That was a massive achievement, for any Waterford team, to beat the supposed kingpins of camogie. Cork topped the group at the end.

As the weeks have gone on, the girls have got better and better. Any challenge that has come their way, the girls have come back in trumps and asked for more.

This is the manager's first year in charge of the minor team. He took over a group which has progressed through the underage ranks together.


"The bond that we have is second to none," says first-year minor Maggie Gostl, who scored 1-6 in the win against Tipperary.

"We all get on so well together, and it makes us play better as a team on the pitch. We know each other's different strengths."

Melanie Buck, who was part of the Waterford team which lost last year's All-Ireland semi-final to Cork by a point after extra-time, adds this is a panel which has found the balance between knowing when it's time to have fun and when it's time for work.


Waterford number 14 Maggie Gostl in action against Dublin during the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor A Camogie Championship. Photo credit: Eddie Dee Photography

"We're all able to have the laugh but then all be so focused and determined when it comes to actually playing the match. That balance is definitely key in a team," she says.


"You play sport to have fun as well. We're all able to have a laugh before training but when it starts everyone is focused.


"Going from U16 to minor, the girls are bigger, stronger. The strength and conditioning [programme] is key. Myself, I'd say Maggie would say the same, we feel so much stronger going into a match knowing we have all this preparation done. There's no nerves, we're ready for the match."

This is Maggie's first year doing strength and conditioning work.

"I do feel stronger," she says.

"You can see it in the girls too - the hits are harder. You're competing with the best, and you have to be strong on the ball and without the ball. You can definitely feel it [transferring] from the gym onto the pitch."

Along with the S&C programme, simply being around the best young talent in the county helps players improve.

"You learn things from all the different girls," says Melanie.

Maggie has taught me so much from playing with her. I'm in the back line, and I'd be close enough to her when we're playing club matches. You learn small things.

I always say to Maggie that she was the one who taught me how to win the rucks. That's one of the things I'd be good at. I asked Maggie how she did in U16 and since then I've carried it on.

It was the way she picked up the ball. She picks it up so low to the ground. I'd be a tall enough player, so I'd be picking the ball up higher. She gets so low to the ground when she's picking it, and manages to come out with it every time.

Yòu build up your confidence because you're playing with the best.

Maggie, who is already playing at senior club level with De La Salle, and Melanie, who plays club camogie with St Annes, both have ambitions of playing at senior level for Waterford. They would be joining a team on the rise. Last year, Waterford reach its first All-Ireland senior semi-final since 1959, and earlier this month, they earned promotion to the top tier of the league.

"We met the senior manager, Sean Power, at the start of the season," says Mark English.

"The first thing Sean said to me was 'We have a big, open dressing room between the two teams'. At the moment, we have two girls on the senior setup, in with Sean. They are part of his 37. For the rest of the girls, the main aim is to get those girls through to senior."

That's for the future. Right now is about Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final date with Kilkenny at the Nenagh Éire Óg grounds in Tipperary.

"At the start of every season, you'd set goals and objectives," says Mark English.

"Our first goal was to get out of the group, get to an All-Ireland semi-final. That's the first box ticked.

"Our goals and objectives are after being readjusted. We potentially have two games now to create history in Waterford camogie and be All-Ireland champions."

See Also: Dowling Thinks Waterford vs Limerick 'Could Be Maddest Game Of Hurling Ever'

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