“We all visualise playing in Croke Park” – O’Byrne
Emma O’Byrne in action for Dublin against Down at Croke Park. Photo by iLivephotos.com

“We all visualise playing in Croke Park” – O’Byrne

GOOD Counsel’s Emma O’Byrne was one of the starting 15 players for the Dublin senior camogie team in their historic return to Croke Park to play Down on Sunday – their first game in the stadium in 11 years.

And the Sky Blues marked their long-awaited appearance at GAA HQ with a 1-13 to 0-6 win in the final round of the Littlewoods Ireland Division One League.

The occasion was not lost on Adrian O’Sullivan’s panel, who played the first game of a double header that also saw the Dublin Senior Men’s team take on Donegal afterwards.

“It was a brilliant opportunity,” Drimnagh native Emma O’Byrne told The Echo.

“It’s great for Dublin camogie as a team, but an even bigger step for camogie in general to be able to get a double header with the lads, who would be able to attract a big crowd.

“Playing in Croke Park is what we have all dreamed of and it was great to be able to do that in a league match, nevermind in an All-Ireland final.

“During the week, on Thursday training before we played in Croker, one of the girls on the team, Róisín Baker, said that we can’t allow it to be a distraction because we’ve all played here in our heads.

“We’ve all been visualising it since we were young girls and it is great for the young girls to be able to aspire to play in places like Croke Park.”

There is plenty of local interest in the panel this season with Hannah Hegarty and Niamh Gannon (St Jude’s), Emma Flanagan (Lucan Sarsfields) and Kerrie Finnegan (Faughs/Celtic) all starting alongside O’Byrne.

There is a strong Jude’s contingent too, with Aoife Walsh, Leah Butler, Sinead Nolan, Cliodhna Nicoletti and Aisling and Claire Gannon all part of the panel alongside Lucan’s Ali Twomey.

While O’Byrne has been solid at wing-back in the league campaign, which saw Dublin finish up mid-table, the former Oblates and Assumption student is not resting on her laurels.

“The environment is really competitive,” she said. “When Adrian is calling out the team every week, we really don’t know what way it’s going to pan out. It’s a matter of attitude, bringing the right mindset to training and doing the right things.

“We’ve all driven on since. We’ve a lot of young talent coming in with the likes of Aisling O’Neill who is only 18, doing her Leaving Cert. Girls like that have really pushed on the whole team.

“I’m really privileged to be in a position where I’m starting, I’m extremely lucky to be able to represent my club in that position.

“It’s a totally different game now with championship coming up.

“We really don’t know who or where anyone will be playing because it’s so competitive.”

Dublin are set to play Westmeath in their Leinster Senior Camogie Championship opener.

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