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Catherine Doherty is in her 13th season of inter-county camogie but the Kilkenny captain retains the same enthusiasm despite still pursuing an elusive senior All-Ireland.

That love of the game comes as no surprise. Her uncle, Joe played for Kilkenny, as did her brothers Niall and Noel, who bagged All-Ireland intermediate medals in 2008.

That was a good year for the clan, as Kilkenny won the national camogie league as well. They reached the All-Ireland the following season, but just as in 2001, Doherty was to experience the bitter pill of defeat.

The 31-year-old argues that significant progress was made under Ann Downey’s management and is confident that this will continue with Brendan Williams at the helm.

“When you come into the senior ranks you’re hoping you’re going to win it in a couple of years but it’s not an easy task. You put in three or four nights a week, you’re doing your own bit of work, you’re hoping that every year is going to be your year.

“We have been in hard luck but I think of the last two or three years we’ve put in savage effort. We have been in the semi-final; in 2009 we were in the All-Ireland final, so to me we’ve come up the ranks in the last few years.

“You’re not gonna’ lie and say it’s easy. It has been hard. After 12 or 13 years on the panel, you’d be hoping at this stage you would have an All-Ireland in your pocket but it just shows it’s not an easy touch.

“The reason most of us come back is that we believe we will eventually get one. We’re building on it. It’s a lot of commitment but at the end of the day you love the game. So you’re going to put in a commitment and hopefully at the end of it you’re going to get your rewards.

“The likes of Wexford and Cork are very strong and we’re chasing to try to get to that physical strength but we’re hoping this year that we are up to the standard.”

And so, they have taken steps to try to be able to stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Mary Leacy, Una Leacy, Catherine O’Loughlin, Gemma O’Connor and Briege Corkery.

“We’re doing a lot of physical work at training with Paul Quigley and you’re going to the gym yourself the nights you can when you’re off, getting programmes and doing your own work.”

Not that Doherty’s slight figure is going to be transformed to such an extent that she will be pursuing a career in bodybuilding.

“Maybe when I finish and retire I might but at the moment I wouldn’t be going for them kind of muscles” she laughs.

Tipperary provide the opposition at Nowlan Park on Saturday and with both teams on two points after two games, victory is vital.

“There is always rivalry between Kilkenny and Tipp, no matter what stage it’s at. It’s always the same, a point or two. It’s the same as the hurling. There are no friends on that day.”

Since being called up to the county squad in 2000, Doherty has missed out on the full revelry of family weddings because of her love for camogie, while her boyfriend has had to be especially patient. One thing would make it all truly worthwhile however.

“You want your hands on the O’Duffy Cup more than anything. You have to keep trying and keep fighting.”

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