Dublin forward Carla Rowe says team haven’t clicked to exactly where they would like to be at this stage but hopes it will all come together today

Dublin forward Carla Rowe in action against Waterford.
Dublin forward Carla Rowe in action against Waterford in round 2 of the TG4 All Ireland Senior Championship

Ahead of today’s game against Armagh in the TG4 All Ireland semi final we caught up last week with Dublin forward Carla Rowe to get her thoughts on the game.

Dublin qualified for the semi final with wins over Donegal and Waterford and having secured their place ahead of Armagh the Dublin players got the chance to watch Armagh’s game against Mayo.

That gave Carla the perfect opportunity to run the rule over Dublin’s semi final opponents and she was under no illusion of the difficult task ahead in today’s game.

“They played very well against Mayo and they beat a good Mayo side so definitely getting prepared for them now this week and even last week, so looking forward to the game.

“But they are going to be a strong side and they have some key forwards and some very good defenders in there and we have to do our homework on a few things and hopefully if we get it right on the day we will be hoping for a good result.”

Armagh are a serious goal threat and have scored 10 goals in the championship so far.

Dublin did a great job in their opening game against Donegal cutting off the supply to their dangerous main forwards, when asked if Dublin would deploy similar tactics in today’s game to stop quality ball been played into the likes of Amy Macken, Carla replied that every game is different and it would be a case of wait and see to how Dublin would set-up for today’s challenge.

“We were happy with how we did against Donegal, they have some of the top 4 outstanding players in the country and I think we did a good job in cutting them off that day.

“It was a messy win but sometimes that’s what it takes to get over the line so I suppose we will be looking at doing homework and doing a job on their key forwards and key players as well.

“But its different courses for different horses and we will have to see what way we set up and do homework this and next week and fine tune things in getting ready for Saturday.”

Dublin reached today’s semi-final courtesy of two hard fought wins over Donegal and Waterford but for Carla Rowe although happy with training and some aspects of the team’s performance in their two games to date, she also expressed that the team haven’t yet clicked to where they want to be and hopes the three weeks of training they have had since their last game will see them come right today.

“We are building, we are training, we are really happy with training and in games its coming and going in bits I think its that bit harder with the winter football but everyone is going to be playing in those conditions so its getting there.

“We haven’t clicked to exactly where we want to be yet but we are hopeful that the 3 weeks of training we have had have done us well and hopefully it will come right next Saturday.”

As far as her own personal performances are concerned Carla was substituted in Dublin’s opening game against Donegal and came roaring back against Waterford playing the full game and scoring three important points on the day. But how did the Clann Mhuire player rate her own game so far?

“As you said I got taken off against Donegal so obviously the half forward role is a bit like that, where sometimes it’s a very hard game up and down the line doing a lot of work.

“So I wanted to make sure I was contributing more and didn’t get lost in the second half against Waterford which personally I was glad I did and stayed on the pitch.

“But, I suppose with the way the match is going to be this year its going to be that the finishing team needs to be just as important as the starting team, so in that way we were happy with that.

For myself I feel I am playing well, I haven’t picked up any injuries so training well and bringing that form into matches is the next thing.”

Dublin are today appearing in their seventh straight All Ireland semi final, this years journey though has been different to previous years.

It’s been a shortened championship this year due to Covid and has basically been virtually knockout football. But did Dublin forward Carla Rowe and her teammates feel more nerves and pressure this season?

“You cant really say we didn’t feel the pressure as I am sure every team in the country did.

“We haven’t experienced that straight knock out before and sometimes you can have games where you don’t perform as well in the first round and it kind of gives you that wake up call and you might get a second chance.

“But we knew going into the game against Donegal that there was no time for messing and no time for us not to perform so there was an extra bit of pressure but we made sure as a team we discussed it, we recognised it and we were able to use it then rather than have it working against us and feeling like we couldn’t express ourselves.

“We used it in training to realise that we were up to the pitch of where we usually would be at an all-Ireland quarter final stage and it went well on the day so yes, a bit different this year but we are working with it and we are just glad to be back in the Semi Final.”

Due to the current health crisis there are new protocols the players have had to adhere to in training and although Carla admitted yes there are definitely differences no one is complaining and the players are just happy to be training and playing football.

“I don’t think anyone’s complaining about it, there definitely are differences but I think at this point everyone was just happy to be back training and there is virtually nothing anyone else is doing with the lock down so we are blessed to be able to get out and be social with each other and to train and to have that time together so in that way we are happy and not complaining.

“A few changes I suppose – we would always have a lot of different meetings and one on one meetings with the management and inside meetings so that has been cut down and probably been eliminated really.

“The use of the dressing room is obviously different, and we are out on the pitch a lot more. Its something every team is facing but we are not complaining, we are happy to be playing football we just have to get used to it now with the weather getting a bit colder.”

Another big change for the players on match days is they can’t travel together on a team bus and have to travel to games on their own.

Although it’s more difficult and a big change to the squads match day routine, for Dublin’s classy forward Carla Rowe it’s all about taking the negatives from the changes to her normal routine and use it somewhat to her advantage.

“The bus situation I suppose is a little bit more difficult on the team because I know for myself personally it was always a fact that when you got on the bus your nerves kind of disappeared.

“You were with the team; you could discuss your players or your position or your tactics. As they say – talking about these things makes you feel better so if the nerves were there you used to have time with the girls on the bus to talk through those things.

“Even the closer you got to the match it would be switching on on the bus and knowing that we were ready to get into a game and everyone would be on the same page with that so travel is a little bit different in that way it changed our usual routine and then even travelling by yourself for an hour and a half or so.

“We just had to readjust, you have to change your routine and be able to use it somewhat to your advantage. Listen to music a bit longer, make sure you are getting your energy up or whatever, so in ways there is positives and negatives but there is nothing we can do about the negatives so all we can do is control how we feel about the positive side of it and turn as many of those negatives into positives.”

Inter-county managers leave nothing to chance and Carla explained how Mick Bohan and his management team made sure that the squad were prepared fully for the changes to their match day routine.

“We had a few friendlies and we had inhouse games which we often do, and a lot of the time management would say mimic that day exactly as it would be for the match.

“They made sure to put emphasis on the fact that we were reinacting that and we are not just arriving on match day in the first round where it was straight knock out and we hadn’t adjusted or we hadn’t got used to those changes.

“So in that way we were well prepared and two games under our belt now as well as a few friendlies so, we are well ready for the semi final and with those changes that have come along with Covid.”

Although Dublin’s advancement to today’s semi final was relatively straight forward the games were much closer than they might have been last year. Was it a sign that the general standard of teams had risen, Dublin forward Carla Rowe certainly thinks that’s certainly the case.

“Yes, absolutely you can never take any team for granted, the standard this year has jumped up so it’s a lot closer.

“Even the other games, our games were both won by 3 points I think, I saw a Galway and Armagh they won by a point Tipperary lost a point. Monaghan a couple of points. Some of those teams wouldn’t have been in mix last year.

“I was talking to one of the girls from Monaghan and they were facing relegation last year and they ran the All-Ireland finalists last year Galway to a point. The standard is rising and that’s positive to see for the sport and we know we are being chased and we have to make sure the standards rise as we keep increasing our standards.

Dublin are chasing their fourth consecutive All Ireland title, did the team feel four in a row pressure talk? or considering what has happened this year did it feel almost like bonus territory in a way for the players?

“Yeah I think it’s that exactly its more of a bonus, we didn’t think we were going to have anything and we weren’t thinking of four in a row and the fact that championship football and training was going to be taken away and we weren’t going to have a championship!

“Right now we are just happy to be able to play football and see how we go on Saturday and hopefully if we give a good performance we can follow it up after that, just take it step by step and day by day I suppose.”

Dublin face Armagh in the TG4 All Ireland Senior Championship semi-final today in Breffni Park in Cavan and fans can catch all the action LIVE on TG4 from 4pm.