Loughiel Shamrocks captain Una McNaughton feels one change can make them All-Ireland contenders
Don't stop believing.
Loughgiel Shamrocks are one of the most successful club hurling and camogie sides of the last decade.
But their camogie club captain Una McNaughton feels that Oulart-The Ballagh got inside their heads in last year's All-Ireland semi-final, which ultimately led to their dreams of March glory ending at the penultimate stage.
Ahead of this Sunday's All-Ireland senior club semi-final against Killimor at 2pm in Clones, the Antrim woman tells us why 2016 is going to be different, why camogie has changed for the better and who the toughest woman to mark at training is.
How disappointing was last year's loss at this stage to Oulart-The Ballagh?
"It was crushing really not to get over the line. But I think we've learned a huge amount from that game, and we are better prepared this time around. We made a huge amount of mistakes and I think we just didn't believe in ourselves last year. Oulart beat us quite easily and they beat us in Casement too before that. Last year we lacked belief because of those previous heavy losses."
@OfficialCamogie @AIB_GAA #thetoughest pic.twitter.com/Zzy3D7Tl1g
— Loughgiel Shamrocks (@loughgielgac) January 27, 2016
So how do you make sure this year is different?
"I think it's actually good that we don't know much about Killimor, and there's no baggage for us. We have no doubt they're a good team but we've done a huge amount of work and we want to be able to put right what went wrong last year on Sunday."
The Good Luck Messages have started to roll in #clones2016 #AISF pic.twitter.com/r1Qt8TNcgv
— Loughgiel Shamrocks (@loughgielgac) January 25, 2016
How long have you been involved with the team?
"I'm playing since I was 15 or 16 with this team, and this is probably my eighth year involved and even at that I'm considered one of the older girls, even in my mid-20s. We have girls now coming out of U16 who are pushing to be on the senior team and that's just a testament to the coaching at underage in the club."
Is there a problem with starting to play senior camogie so young?
"Yeah, I think there might be an issue that when you start so young, your career could be finished by the time you reach 30 or whatever. I think the focus on underage in every club means it's a problem across the board. Camogie is all about the gym work and the work away from the field now, and it mirrors the effort put in by men I guess.
"For me I think the change over the last five years in diet and physical effort as well as the mental side of things has helped develop camogie hugely. It's totally different, we didn't hear about taking protein five years ago anyway!
"Every session we do now on the field we have the tackle bags out and it's short sharp work on the field to improve the touch."
— Loughgiel Shamrocks (@loughgielgac) October 26, 2015
What was the toughest game of the season?
"The Ulster final against Slaughtneil was very very tough. We've played them a bit and they are such a tough Derry side, typical of what you'd expect from them, physical and skillful.
"Beating them was massive for us and a lot of people saw us as underdogs even though we'd won Ulster in 2014 so it was great to go get that under our belt. It was great for learning about ourselves too for Sunday's game and where to improve."
Who's the toughest opponent at training?
"Caitrin Dobbin is our speedy corner-forward and she is brilliant, although any of the forwards are fairly tough but she's up there."
The Lucky Girls girls who will lead the team out onto Clones on Sunday with members of Loughgiel Senior Team today ☘ pic.twitter.com/Rp1r4ZJIHL
— Loughgiel Shamrocks (@loughgielgac) January 29, 2016
One word to describe your teammates?
"Workrate. The girls are just dog hard workers and it is great to be involved in a team with them coming after so many defeats it's a testament to their efforts."
What will it take to get to an All-Ireland final?
"We can't afford to be below par and we need to click straight away. They are a good team and we know that we will make mistakes but we can't let those affect us and if we come together, and learn from last year it should work out. Killimor have been there before too and hunger could be a big factor on the day."