Right: new Westmeath senior camogie manager, Diarmuid Cahill. Photo: Martina McGilloway

New camogie manager Cahill eagerly awaits All-Ireland series

Westmeath’s new senior camogie manager Diarmuid Cahill is itching to get started on this summer’s All-Ireland intermediate championship series, after admitting that both he and his new charges were looking beyond yesterday’s Leinster senior camogie championship semi-final clash with Dublin in Abbotstown.

The Lake County were defeated 1-15 to 0-4 by the Dubs’ efficient first string, but the Tipperary native isn’t reading much into the result.

“We were thrown in at the deep end! But the girls reacted very well. I was loving their positivity coming and throughout the game, I couldn’t fault them,” he told the media after yesterday’s game.

“We did exactly what we wanted to do. We’re going to grow on the tactics that I have for the year, and the style of hurling I want them to play. It’s very hard to get that across over two [training] sessions.

“So, I’m delighted to be here and delighted to be involved, and I’m looking forward to a more adventurous year with the girls with the start of the intermediate championship.”

Cahill succeeds Offaly’s Albert Kelly, who stepped down from the job in late March after just five months in the role. He was ratified by Westmeath’s county camogie board on Tuesday night last.

“I came in and did one or two sessions with the players prior to that, while a few others helped out,” he explained. “They have great people in the county to help out while they appointed a new manager.

“I’m originally from Tipperary; Kilruane MacDonaghs [Cloughjordan] is my hurling club, and I would have hurled up in Kildare as well. My wife is from Kildare, so I’m part of a club up there and part of the county setup for the last couple of years.

“I’ve come off a very intense Kildare squad under [former Kilkenny hurler] Dave Herity, who I have to say is an amazing manager and coach. I’ve learned a lot from him, which I’m going to mirror here with the girls. I’m trying to bring a new factor to camogie in Westmeath.”

Yesterday’s visit to Abbotstown was a baptism of fire for the new Westmeath manager.

“It was, without a doubt – the first day against the Dublin senior team. They’ve a brilliant setup; they’re back at it probably since October or November,” Cahill continued.

“We have a lot to catch up on, and they’re willing to catch up on it. I’d love to have another crack at Dublin after we do a couple of more weeks of training, so I wouldn’t fear them if they came up again down the line.

“It’s definitely a challenge ahead of us, but the girls are definitely up for it. We have a fine bunch of girls there, and more to come in.”

Westmeath were hugely competitive during the first quarter on Saturday afternoon, but began to fade gradually after Dublin’s Aisling O’Neill netted in the tenth minute.

“Today would have been great if we caught Dublin on the hop,” Cahill reflected. “I would like to feel that, even though the score didn’t reflect it, we won the first half when it came to certain tussles. I think Dublin were a little bit surprised by the intensity that we brought for the first 15 or 20 minutes.

“They are a fine outfit; they probably knew they were going to win at the end, but we had to make them think. They had to think after the first 30 minutes, and they came out in the second half, and Dublin are a fine team so they knew what they had to do in the second thirty minutes, whereas our girls struggled a little bit.

“But that’s from not training together enough; it’s nothing to do with fitness or anything like that, it’s more about them not being used to the style of hurling I want.”

Cahill said he will be finalising his backroom team in the coming weeks.

“We’ve a few more to come in. I’ve put the feelers out to a few men and women. We want to increase the size of the squad,” he said. “I have [Raharney’s] Andreanna Doyle in with me as a selector. Unfortunately due to prior commitments she wasn’t available today, but she will be throughout the year.

Diarmuid Cahill.

“I know there are other girls who have made commitments throughout the year, and I’m willing to work with that. It will be an enjoyable camp, and hopefully a successful one by the end of the year.”

The new manager said that he is only getting used to the reins in Westmeath and is aware of some players who may have yet to return to the county setup. For example, All-Ireland winners Fiona Leavy, Aoife Doherty (Raharney) and Caoimhe McCrossan (Lough Lene Gaels) were not involved yesterday.

“Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot of the Westmeath players. I would know a few girls from Raharney through the family – my brother’s married to a Raharney woman – but the door is still open. There are a lot of girls who are due to come back in,” he explained.

“This weekend, I was concentrating on what was there. Every girl got a game, that’s what I wanted today. Some came off and went back on again. I wanted to use the five subs with the panel that was there.

“So from next week on, it’s about building the panel and building our intensity in training.”

Up next for Cahill and Westmeath is the first round of the All-Ireland intermediate championship, and a clash with Dublin’s intermediate panel on the weekend of May 28/29. This year, Dublin’s second string are managed by Raharney’s Jimmy Greville.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Cahill enthused. “I didn’t get a chance to see them today; the traffic was bad coming up from Tipperary unfortunately. But I’m looking forward to the championship and looking forward to the group.

“There are fine teams there – Carlow, Kerry among them, and they’re all well able to play hurling and camogie. So it’s going to be a very good year for us. I’m always positive, so I’ll be looking towards the very end, and hopefully we’ll come up trumps at the end of it.”