Rowe and Dublin ready to get back down to business
Bohan’s side intent on improving their record of having won just one league title
Nicola Ward (Galway), Carla Rowe (Dublin) and Caoimhe McGrath (Waterford) at the launch of the Lidl One Good Club. The youth mental health and wellbeing programme aims to increase awareness and knowledge of mental health across the LGFA community. Photograph James Crombie/Inpho
With her long-time Dublin team-mates Sinead Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy currently preparing for the start of the Australian Rules season with Melbourne, Carla Rowe would be forgiven for envying them having made her way through the numbing grey morning to Lidl’s HQ in Tallaght for the launch of the National Football League campaign.
Would you not like to be lying on an Australian beach at the moment?
“You’d love to be lying on a beach anywhere on a morning like this,” she laughs.
“But no, it [playing in Australia] is just not in my plans for now. It’s definitely something I wouldn’t say no to further down the line, but it’s not something I’m considering just yet. It’s a great experience for all the Irish girls there this year, you couldn’t blame any of them, it’s an opportunity. If it’s right for them at the time they have to go and take it.”
For now, though, Rowe’s sole focus is on Dublin duty, her county returning to action on Sunday when they take on Tipperary in their opening Division One fixture, a game that will be livestreamed on Facebook, four months after they won their third All-Ireland title in a row.
“In some ways that only feels like yesterday,” she said. “But it’s all in the past now, we have to put it to bed. It was great to reflect on it through the off-season and enjoy it, but we’re back working hard now – and the trophy is no longer ours.”
While reigning League champions Cork, who begin their campaign against Westmeath on Saturday in what will be their first ever appearance at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, are aiming for their 13th League title, Dublin, surprisingly, have just one to their name (from 2018).
For that reason, says Rowe, there’s no question of Dublin taking the league lightly, even if it will probably be used again by manager Mick Bohan to try out some of the young blood coming through to the panel.
“I think for everyone the league is a stepping stone to the championship, but because we’ve only ever won it once, it’s a massive thing for us, we want to win it again. And no one can ease up because there’s so much competition for places.
“You’re afraid to miss a training session, even if you’re sick or you’re injured, because you don’t want to lose your jersey, you don’t want to be a step behind. And that’s what’s needed, that competitiveness within the squad is what pushes us on, and you need 30, 35 players throughout the year so we can push each other in training games and be ready for all the challenges we’ll face.”
The 24-year-old, who won her third All Star last November after another outstanding year, dismisses any notion that Dublin are set to dominate the game for another few years yet, insisting that there are enough counties out there more than capable of challenging for the major honours.
“We haven’t walked over any team in quarter-finals, semi-finals, finals the last few years, they’ve been very, very tight, so we know right well the competition is there.
“You don’t ever want just two or three teams competing for the title, and we don’t – we have six, seven, eight counties, and you’ll see that throughout the league. It won’t just be one team running away with it, like Liverpool. And I’m a United fan,” she adds, somewhat mournfully. (Should Solskjaer be sacked? “Ah Jeez, I don’t know . . . no comment. I wouldn’t know where to start.”).
Rowe, whose two goals in the 2018 All-Ireland final saw off Cork’s challenge, is, then, aiming for another year that will make her home village of Naul proud.
“It’s a small community, you know everyone. When you’re playing in Croke Park you can see the signs in the crowd, you know all the faces, so to be able to give back to them, after all the support they’ve given me, is really important. Hopefully we can give back again this year.”
* Carla Rowe has been made an ambassador, along with Galway’s Nicola Ward, Caoimhe McGrath from Waterford and Donegal’s Emer Gallagher, for the newly launched Lidl One Good Club, which brings Lidl’s charity partner, Jigsaw, and the LGFA together to promote positive mental health in LGFA clubs across the country.