Anne Dalton is not going to sugar-coat it; she would like to have won more. And yet her story in a Kilkenny jersey is rightfully held up as a portrayal of resilience and overcoming adversity.
Dalton lost three All-Ireland senior camogie finals before finally winning one in 2016. However, she then lost three consecutive deciders between 2017-19, only to return in 2020 and claim a second O’Duffy Cup.
“I’m sorry I didn’t get more,” she says. “But if I had 15 medals in my back pocket and you asked me that, I’d still say I should have won more, and every player is like that.
“For me anyway, when people ask about All-Irelands, the first ones you think of tend to be the losing ones because hurt can have a longer impact feelings-wise than wins. You are not entitled to win anything, but I feel like I wish I had won more.”
Dalton’s obsession to win is a key theme of her Laochra Gael episode, which airs on TG4 this Thursday night.
She cannot think back to the 2017 All-Ireland final without running through the passage of play early in the second half when her hurl got jammed in the ground while trying to make a clearance. Orla Cronin pounced and fired over a long-range point. Cork won that final by a single point.
“It still haunts me when I see the clip, and that point was savage, but for me if I had just come out with that ball, in my head we probably would have won it,” said Dalton.
“But sport is not like that, I said it at the time, I could have come out with that ball and messed it up and they could have gone up and scored a goal.
“I am very much about you taking responsibility for your mistakes, or what you critique to be your mistakes, on the pitch and in life. If you don’t take that responsibility you are giving control away.”
The days after that final she spent largely locked away from the rest of the world.
“I would have gone in shutdown mode on my phone, I would not have left the house other than going to work,” Dalton recalled.
“I stayed in for a couple of weeks, I remember I was supposed to meet some people two or three weeks after the final and I just turned to Karen and I said, ‘I just can’t’.
“I just stayed in the house and did my own thing for a couple of weeks.”
In the show, Dalton – who is married to former Waterford player Karen Kelly – also opens up about becoming a parent. Karen gave birth to all four of their children but it wasn’t until May 2020 until legislation was changed, allowing same sex couples to be legally recognised as co-parents of their children.
“I couldn’t walk through the airport with them. I physically could, but if I was stopped I was legally not their parent to carry them through passport control,” added Dalton.
“It’s little things like that I would have been aware of once we had the kids. It was more protection if anything ever happened to Karen or anything happened to me. Because at the end of the day we are a family and if something happens one of the family there’s protection there financially to support a family and that was the big thing when all that changed.
“It was long overdue, but it’s great that it’s there going forward because it’s going to be the norm and that’s a good thing. You have kids with parents who will provide a loving and supportive household for them and it doesn’t matter what gender they are or what their sexuality is.
“Once they are providing a safe place for kids where they can grow up and be loved, who can possibly think that is wrong? That’s the way I see it.”
– Anne Dalton’s Laochra Gael episode will be shown on TG4 this Thursday night at 9.30.