Rowe and Dublin looking to level up as new league season dawns

CARLA Rowe says Dublin’s mindset has changed from the hunter to being the hunted as they look forward to the new ladies football season, starting on Sunday (2pm) against Waterford at Parnell Park.

Last December’s All-Ireland success was their fourth in succession, overturning Cork’s dominance in dramatic fashion.

And Rowe says knowing it can change in an instant means she and her team mates have to keep pushing the envelope.

“Mick [Bohan] would always say that for those three years we were chasing Cork, but we’ve been the ones being hunted the last few years,” Rowe said on Tuesday in her role as a Lidl ambassador.

“If you’re not improving, if you’re not developing more than everyone else, then you’re in trouble.

“And we still believe as a group that we haven’t hit the best performance that we know we’re capable of. There have been highlights here and there, maybe 20 minutes in different matches, but we haven’t had that one complete performance, so we’ll be striving to reach that goal this year.”

And while the county have enjoyed dominance in the championship, they just have their 2018 success in the league among their accolades.

That is something Rowe says they aim to improve on.

“Because we’ve only ever won it once in our history, it’s not something to we go in to lightly, we go out with the goal of winning it.

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“Yes, you use it to your advantage, you try different things, different panel members, different positions, but this time, having just had the three or four weeks together, we’ll be trying to learn as much as we can and as fast as we can and, yeah, hitting the ground running.”

Indeed, there will be a number of changes to the line-up with Noelle Healy making the decision to retire while Sinead Goldrick sustained an injury in Australia where she has remained to continue her rehab.

On the flip side, Lyndsey Davey has confirmed they will continue for another season as has Sinead Aherne and she will continue her captaincy into a fifth season.

“I can just sum her up in one word: phenomenal,” says Rowe of Aherne. “And that’s as a person and as a player. She’s a quiet type, and she brings that in to her leadership role in ways – but when she speaks everyone knows to listen, and knows this is serious business. 

“She’s led us fantastically, not only in the last four years as captain but through all her years with Dublin, she’s always been a leader and someone we’ve always looked up to.”

Lauren Magee and Niamh McEvoy will also be in the mix following their stints down under with both re-joining the training group in the past week.

And they will look forward to ever better improvements in conditions with the news county players will now have expenses covered to the same level as their male GAA counterparts.

A feature of this year’s league is also an elevated standard of stadium with Dublin playing Waterford in Parnell Park, Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the first time and then Tipperary in Semple Stadium.

“We want to be playing in those big stadiums; we want as many games as we can get in them, that’s where we want to be. It’s brilliant, it’s the levelling of the playing field, the fact that we haven’t played in Páirc Uí Chaoimh before, you’d scratch your head and wonder why.

“We’re looking to constantly raise the bar and as we raise the bar obviously, we hope that everything else follows — along with other teams raising the bar — and if we keep doing that, we keep developing our game which is fantastic.”

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