Kate Kirwan is confident that Wexford can bounce back in 2023 under new manager Colin Sunderland by being the fittest team in Ireland.
Wexford reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals in 2021, although the Slaneysiders won just one of their five championship fixtures last year as they narrowly avoided a relegation play off.
Manager Kevin Tattan stepped down after a disheartening loss to Dublin in their final match, and Oulart-The Ballagh club man Sunderland has since taken the reins in the Model County.
It’s early days under Sunderland as of yet, although Kirwan is confident that the changes Sunderland has made can propel Wexford to greater success this year.
“The panel is quite different as well so we’re all just trying to meet each other and learn. It’s very professional and [Sunderland] just knows so much about hurling,” Kirwan said.
“He also focuses on the simple things and getting them right, which I think is super important. Like your first touch, which is something you’d probably overlook sometimes but obviously its vital so he’s really focused on getting that perfect.
“You obviously aim to win the All-Ireland, but our big thing is to be the fittest team in Ireland and that’s how our preparation is going to go. Then we’ll see what we can achieve beyond that.
“But honestly we believe that we can be one of the top five teams in the country.”
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Kirwan haș plenty to keep her busy at the moment, as she is a key player for UCD’s camogie team with the Ashbourne Cup campaign currently ongoing.
Committing to UCD and Wexford was never going to be easy for Kirwan, although she is thankful to Sunderland and her university manager Jack Dunphy for working with each other over her availability.
“It is quite difficult but I think everyone’s very accommodating. As long as you’re hurling, everyone’s happy and you just communicate [with each team],” Kirwan explained.
“I’m just lucky that my college and county managers communicate amongst themselves to make sure we’re not burnt out or getting injured by over training.
“It is tough but it’s all about just working with each other and being open with the communication. It’s not too bad… You have to prioritise what’s important. Obviously you have to make sacrifices in your own social life.
“I create a time table for the week to see what I need to get done and tick things off. So it is tough but you get through once you make a good plan.”
Kate Kirwan on how playing for UCD has developed her camogie skills.
Kirwan has played for UCD since her first year in college and is very thankful for the skills she developed from training alongside inter-county players from around the country.
“It’s been absolutely massive. When I was in first year we won the Purcell Cup and just by being on that team I developed so much under those managers,” Kirwan said.
“Obviously you’re playing with girls from all around the country who are playing at such high standards. Seeing how they train, how they strike the ball, you have to be bigger, faster.
“That was the first time I was introduced to a proper gym programme… Even just the simple thing of arriving to training half an hour early, getting your own work in, whether that be shooting, first touch or just passing to hand.
“That kind of professionalism in a team, which I hadn’t really seen before.”
Pictured is University College Dublin Camogie players, Clodagh McIntyre and Kate Kirwan, as Electric Ireland teams up with six intercounty Camogie and GAA stars to look ahead to the upcoming matches and rivalries across the Electric Ireland Camogie Third Level Championships and the Electric Ireland GAA Higher Education Championships. Through its #FirstClassRivals campaign, Electric Ireland will continue to celebrate the unexpected alliances that form between county rivals as they come together in pursuit of some of the most coveted titles across Camogie and GAA.
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