Caoimhe Costelloe leaves you in no doubt but that Limerick are not focussing on consolidation in the top ranks of the Camogie tier. They want to make a tangible impact by garnering silverware.
The Shannonsiders have made tremendous progress in recent years, following up defeat in an All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie final by winning the title last September. They annexed the Irish Daily Star National League Division 2 crown in 2013 and then just missed out on a semi-final place in Division 1 after a three-way play-off 12 months later.
So this year, the aim is to make the last four of the League at least before giving the senior championship a real go. These are minimum goals.
The League campaign has begun well, with a come-from-behind draw in dreadful conditions against Galway and victory against Tipperary.
“It’s been fantastic. We set out what we want to achieve this year. We want to give the League a good run. We had one great win and a good draw against Galway in tough conditions. So far we’re happy with where we are and how we’re progressing.
“We held Galway scoreless in the second half when they were playing against the wind. Our backs played great but we’d plenty of chances to win it and probably should have won it in the end. But we’ll take the draw. They were All-Ireland champions two years ago; we lost two years ago to their intermediate team in the All-Ireland, so to draw with their senior team we must only look on it as a fantastic result.
“Against Tipp, we had just the bare team and had to bring on some of the minors who are involved in their campaign. We shone that day. Niamh Mulcahy gave an exhibition midfield and so did her sister Judith at corner-back.
“We’re very happy with how we played but we still have plenty of things we need to work on. We need to be more clinical in front of goals. But we’re progressing along nicely. We’re not lost at senior level.”
Far from it. Limerick are real contenders and have signposted their intentions with their performances. They know what they are capable of and there is plenty of room for improvement. Aiming high is the best way of accelerating that improvement because at the elite level, if you stand still, you go backwards.
“It’s a pity last year we were understrength against Clare in that final game in the play-off, but to get to the play-off last year, when we hadn’t our eyes on the League as the Championship was the focus, was good.
“This year we’re going all out to win the League and Championship. If you don’t aim high, if you don’t aim to win and aim to be back in Croke Park, you’re at nothing.”
Wexford travel to Bruff tomorrow (2.30pm) and represent a stern test but it is a challenge that Costelloe relishes.
“We shouldn’t fear Wexford even though they’re a fantastic team. If they told us last year that we were going to be playing Wexford in the third round of the League in a top-of-the-table battle we’d have taken it.
“It will be a good chance to gauge where we’re at. We know how dominant Wexford have been over the last five or six years. It will be a great test of our character and of where we stand.
“We’re looking forward to it. Training has gone well this week.
“All three teams are out this weekend between senior, junior and minor so we’ll be fairly tight in numbers but the 15 we’re putting out on the field can do the job and we have faith in one another. We’re limited in terms of what we can choose from but by no means are we weakened by that.”
The exposure of so many players to operating in intercounty games will stand to Limerick in the future. Already, the battle for places is intense and will increase as the year progresses.
“Down the line you’re going to have serious competition for places. Our minors will want to win that again this year. Meanwhile, our juniors want to play senior and there are fierce battles going on in training. So when we get everyone back, it’ll be serious competition.”
Costelloe was a star of last year’s All-Ireland minor-winning outfit, as she was in the intermediate decider. Now in her first year of teacher training, she laughs at how she is referring to the younger girls in the panel, not to mind the transition of standing in front of a class as she has been this week in Newcastle West, from being so accustomed to sitting in one of the desks.
“It’s gas, isn’t it? I feel like an older head now a bit and I’m only there three years!”
The leadership is evident though. Little wonder Limerick are thriving.