Joachim Kelly has made some outstanding contributions to Gaelic games in Offaly over the past 35 years or so.
The decision to convert Elaine Dermody from full-back to central attacker on the Faithful’s camogie team in 2009 might not be the most obvious to make that list, but it paid instant dividends, as the Drumcullen ace propelled her side to an historic All-Ireland junior title. They followed up by winning the intermediate championship 12 months later and are holding their own at senior level.
Throughout it all, Dermody has been scoring for fun. And it has been tremendous fun for the 30-year-old, who works with FBD Insurance in Mullingar.
Half her life has been given to Offaly’s first team, with this her 16th championship campaign. She was captain when Tipperary beat them in the 2001 All-Ireland and has the honour once again.
The stats show that she has scored 4-22 this term, representing 64% of Offaly’s 6-35 in the four games of the round-robin series. Despite that, she would prefer to be contributing more from play. Her free-taking has been very impressive though.
“I used never practice them when I was younger, but the last two or three years I practice them once or twice a week on top of training. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t.
“Everyone’s got their one style. John Troy has tried to fine-tune a few things but I just jab-rise it, even though he tried to get me to roll-rise. He used to do it himself, generally with the club, as Johnny Dooley took most of them for Offaly. I just could never get the hang of it though and prefer the jab.”
Troy has succeeded Kelly as manager this season. A quarter-final spot is up for grabs today in a play-off against Kilkenny, who they beat in the Leinster semi-final before giving Wexford a fright in the decider.
“I know quarter-finals are new but if we could win against Kilkenny, we would see that as progress. Also, we want the shortest route possible. We wouldn’t have a big squad so when you’ve a smaller squad you want to be as efficient as you can.
“We’d be disappointed overall with our performances this year. But you can’t dwell on it too long. These are the teams you want to be playing against. We have a win over them this year but that’s not going to mean anything. We just see it as another challenge to test ourselves.
“I can’t put my finger on why the performances were disappointing. But you can’t keep looking back on it. This is another chance. We have to up our performance and if we do that, the win will follow on. I wouldn’t mind winning ugly either though!
“When I first started (camogie) was still 12-a-side, that’s how old I am. I appreciate it more now, get more of a kick out of it. When you’re younger, you go with the flow, don’t think about it too much. When you get older, you realise what you’re doing, what you’re achieving, what you’re playing for. You realise too that the end is coming down the track.”
Plenty more scoring to be done before that though, one suspects.
Pictured above: Elaine Dermody (right) with Lorraine Ryan of Galway at the Camogie 2012 championship launch