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Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 8 April, 2020
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'They are like chalk and cheese, it's like good cop and bad cop' - new Dublin management

Sky Blues camogie star Laura Twomey on the new management duo, a new campaign and new rules.

Dublin joint managers John Treacy and Willie Braine (both Cuala).
Dublin joint managers John Treacy and Willie Braine (both Cuala).
Image: iLivephotos.com/Dublin Camogie.

DUBLIN CAMOGIE STAR Laura Twomey is pleased with the “positive start” her side have made under the watchful eye of a new management team.

Cuala duo John Treacy and Willie Braine have taken the reins of the capital outfit, and become the third different management team in three years. 

Treacy and Braine took over from former Mayo ladies football manager Frank Browne, while All-Ireland winning Kilkenny goalkeeper David Herity had made good progress at the helm before that.

After a narrow loss to 2019 All-Ireland champions Galway, Twomey is upbeat about what lies ahead under the new management of former Dublin hurling captain Treacy, who has been involved with the camógs and minor hurlers in the past, and Braine, Dublin All-Ireland Premier Junior camogie winning coach and Cuala underage hurling manager who has served for both the Irish Navy and Irish Army.

“It’s been brilliant, a really positive start,” she said at yesterday’s AIG 20×20 ‘Show Your Skills’ Competition Launch.

“It’s always nice to have a fresh set of eyes and opinions. They have got a nice blend of youth and experience with loads of minors and girls just out of their first year of minors coming through.

One thing you like as a team is the fact that John and Willie are both so ingrained in Dublin, born and reared in Dublin, and given to teams within hurling and camogie, they know the set-up very well. They know the players, the club scene, the inter-county scene, and bring that intrinsic motivation from within the county.

“But they have also brought a different style of play. Recent years, we have been labelled a very defensive team and they are trying to change that now to bring a more attacking element to our play. Tactically, they have really brought us on, and then in conditioning and skill-wise, John has been excellent in terms of developing individual players in regards their own skillset as well.

They are like chalk and cheese, but they work really well together, it’s like good cop bad cop, but that is needed in every team environment. They complement each other really well and have been really pushing the girls so far.

Under Herity in 2017, Dublin reached their first All-Ireland semi-final in 27 years, but last year, with new management at the helm after a delay, they didn’t quite scale those heights.

Coaching continuity is, of course, extremely beneficial to any team, so Twomey certainly welcomes the new additions and their approach. And hopes they can stay more long-term.

“That’s what you want as a player. You want something to hold onto and you want consistency and continuity. To say it hasn’t been rocky changing management over the last couple of years would be a lie.

“It is difficult each year, trying to adapt, trying to process new information and new ways of delivering coaching and that but I think there has been a really great element of a buy-in this year and there has been a huge number of new players brought that might not have prejudice against how things used to be or resistant to change or stuff like that.

“So hopefully going forward, this will develop over a couple of years. That is the lads plan as well to try to start developing that attacking style of play and building on the great work done.

laura-twomey-and-amy-oconnor Facing Cork's Amy O'Connor last summer. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“It hasn’t all been chop and change but I suppose this period has been a little difficult to navigate in terms of setting a consistent standard.”

The Sky Blues have been training since November, and are based out at the National GAA Centre at Abbotstown, so a consistent base is nice too. 

Naomh Mearnóg star Twomey is pleased they pushed the Tribe all the way in their opener — “there’s positives that we can take going forward. That has really rooted the team, we now have that belief that we are going to challenge these teams, and there is no reason why we can’t if we are playing at our best” — and is looking forward to a tight encounter with Tipperary this weekend, where Dublin “want to get one up on them,’ after past hurt.

If you put in a performance like that against the so-called bigger teams and particularly the All-Ireland champs, it is always going to bring positivity and encouragement.

“But we have proven before that we can beat these bigger teams, like Wexford in 2017, so it is not just this year. It has been coming a while so it is just trying develop that consistency.

“The league is going to test out different players and hopefully we can really pose a threat in the Leinster competition in May.”

They’re looking forward, rather than back, and confident in their ability after in injection of youth. Player retention and player continuity has been a big problem in the past, but Twomey feels that “the best that are in Dublin at the moment” are currently involved.

2018 captain Twomey is one of many who spoke out about the need for change last year, so she’s pleased with the Camogie Association’s rule changes for the 2020 league. 

After a steady stream of criticism from current and former players about the stop-start nature of matches, the association established several new rules to trial through the league, some which cover the areas of contact, persistent fouling, dropping the hurley and the handpass goal.

While Dublin have only played one competitive match with them in place, it’s still interesting to hear Twomey’s opinion after her vocal addition last year.

aig-show-your-skills-launch Twomey at the AIG Show Your Skills launch yesterday. Source: Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE

“It is funny as you think that training would change completely,” the versatile player grins, “but the main thing is the physicality and we have just tried to increase the intensity around the minimum contact rule, so there is probably a little bit more let go in training.

“And then obviously trying to negate the dropping of the hurl and the hand-pass goal. In the first week, I was telling people, as a back, get in as a forward and hand-pass that goal, but you have to stop yourself – that train of thought is difficult to get rid of, especially for the older players who have been so used to it.

“Funnily enough, in the game, the hand-pass rule did not really feature or cause too much trouble in terms of how to adapt. I think that players were just taking the ball on and striking it really, really well.

It was probably the dropping of the hurl that caught us out a couple of times. I know myself, when you are going up to catch a high ball with not too much support around you, your instinct is to drop it and hand-pass it off, so I think there is still a bit of confusion around that and it will take a while for players, managers and referees to adapt.

“I think they have really brought the game on even over the last couple of weeks,” she adds, with a smile. “The other thing is with the goalie, the quick puck-out, it really increases the speed of the game.

“As soon as a shot is taken now and the referee blows the whistle once, the ball is coming straight back out so you have to be really astute and aware as to where your player is, and that will add to the excitement of the game.

“It’s going well, so hopefully there will be a good reaction to them in April and see how they are going forward.”

AIG are calling on women and girls of all ages, all abilities and all sports to ‘Show Your Skills’. Enter the online competition at aig.ie/skills to be in with a chance to win a monthly €1,000 prize.

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Emma Duffy

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