Dolan eyes up right deal for Meath
By Daragh Ó Conchúir
When Meath reached the Final of the Irish Daily Star National League Division 2 Final in 2012, just 12 months after collecting Division 3 honours, there was a strong sense that this was a team on a steep upward trajectory.
Defeat to Derry would not have been considered a serious setback and they went on to overcome Down in the All-Ireland Premier Junior decider.
There was considerable optimism that Meath would carry that momentum through to the following season and make a bold bid for a sitting at the top table in both league and championship.
It didn’t work out like that but now, the reinvigorated Royals have made it back to a final, with Galway providing the opposition this time.
In the good and bad days, Jane Dolan has been a real constant, the scoring threat that if nullified, considerably reduces the chances of victory for her side.
That brings considerable pressure but the Blackhall Gaels sharpshooter is accustomed to it now. It comes with the territory, as is the case in her professional life as a property investor.
“I work on the commercial side of things, buying and selling blocks and stuff like that” says Dolan. “It’s good. The market was mental for the last few years but it seems to be settling down a bit. It’s busy.
Dolan was coming out of college when the sector hit rock bottom but ironically, this provided opportunity.
“I was lucky in a sense. The year I came out of our class, a lot went travelling and a lot went out and did masters. So I just put my CV out and got a job. There was a stage where I didn’t know what would happen.
“The thing with property is that there are so many different departments and I think I’ve been lucky the way things have gone. And I’m in a good company as well, DTZ, the commercial side of Sherry Fitzgerald. They’re very good to me.”
The boss is a Galwegian but as yet, hasn’t called the 28-year-old in for overtime tomorrow, though his compatriots wouldn’t mind.
Certainly, Dolan knows the strengths possessed by the Tribeswomen, and won’t be fooled by the 3-17 to 1-5 success when they met six weeks ago in Trim.
“Kildare are always very strong and anytime we play them, it’s always a typical derby. So Galway must be strong but we know that.
We played them in the group. We beat them but it was a very tough challenge. I came out the worst of a few tackles so I know what’s coming. They’ll be tough, they’ll have a stronger team out this time and we’ll have to get our heads right.”
Crucially, everything feels right with Meath now under John Davis, the manager who oversaw their rise from Division 4 to Division 2, and took a short sabbatical before returning last year.
“We’ve put an awful lot of work in this year. We were back in December for strength and conditioning, Maria Kealy put us through our paces. We’re in good nick at this stage.
“To be honest, we’ve been in Division 2 now for five years. We reached the final in our first year and got beaten by a very good Derry team and ever since then we haven’t been able to get back to the final.
“I’m one of the older players on that team and I’d like to think I’m not that old! We’re a young team but a lot of us have been there a long time and are quite experienced.”
“The ambition is to get to three finals and if we can win them, even better. We’re in our first final now so hopefully we can win it. It’s a great thing for a team.
“There’s a few of us that would have been on the team that won the Junior All-Ireland (in 2012) but a lot of the younger girls wouldn’t know what it’s like. We got to a Leinster Final last year but it would be unbelievable to win a national competition. And Division 1 is where you want to be.”
Like a lot of panellists, Dolan played football for Meath but opted to concentrate on Camogie. With the county board and clubs working hard on grassroots level, she feels the future is bright.
“We’re lucky we had a really good minor team that stayed together, along with a number of older girls that wanted to get things up and running and they did. After us, another wave of younger girls came along. Meath Camogie is strong now, there’s a good underage set-up and a good few of the minors are coming through to the squad which is great for training. We wouldn’t have had that before. It
makes a massive difference.
“Even the club scene is picking up. There’s a lot more clubs popping up, a lot more kids playing. There is still work to be done – my own club wouldn’t have an underage structure which is a pity – but a lot of others are so we just have to keep it going and keep building.”
A win Saturday would be another step on the way.