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Published: 12:32 | 8/1/19

Documentary: True Blues


They are the perennial underdogs of the Dublin GAA family. While the men’s football, hurling and ladies football teams have all tasted success in recent times, the camogie team has gone many years without silverware. eir sport 1, Sun, Jan 13th 11.30pm

This documentary follows the camogie panel through the highs and lows of the 2017 campaign. Would this year be any different and can a new manager and a raft of fresh talent finally bring the success that the die-hard Dublin supporters have been waiting for?

There may have been something of a famine on the trophy front of late, but Dublin has a rich camogie tradition. In fact, with 26 titles, they have won more All-Irelands than any other county bar Cork who lead the way on 28. With a succession of legendary players including Maire Gill, Kathleen Mills, Kathleen Cody, Una O’Connor and Sophie Brack amongst others, they won all but eight of the game’s top prizes between 1932 and 1966, including a remarkable 18 in 19 years between 1948 and 1966.

But their last All-Ireland success came in 1984 and times have been fairly lean ever since. However, support throughout the club network has remained strong. The appointment of former Kilkenny goalkeeper and five-time All-Ireland winner David Herity as manager for the start of the 2017 campaign was seen as the dawning of new era for Dublin camogie. A number of older players called time on their careers, but that loss was offset by the arrival of a new wave of talent as 13 new faces were drafted into the senior panel.

Cork have dominated the camogie landscape in recent years, but hopes were high in the capital for the new campaign. Would 2017 be Dublin’s year at last?

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Directed by Vincent McEntee (Endure) and produced by Daniel Hegarty of Marmalade Films (Hey Ronnie Reagan, Waterlilies) for eir sport with funding from the BAI Sound & Vision III scheme, True Blues is a fly-on-the-wall look at the inner workings of the Dublin camogie set-up. It takes the viewer on a fascinating behind-the-scenes journey into the everyday lives of the manager, the squad and the support staff. Nothing is off limits as we watch the players training and listen to some of the dressing room exchanges. We also get to see some of them at work and at home and see the challenges that they face in their day-to-day lives outside the sport.

One of the newer recruits, Sarah O’Donovan, a two- time All-Ireland winner with Cork, joined the Dublin set up in 2015 at a point when the team was at its lowest ebb. She recalls the attitude in the county at the time. ”When I moved to Dublin, nobody wanted to play senior,” she explains. “It was seen as a poisoned chalice. That had to change.”

It is this obvious determination and drive to achieve that underpins the True Blues narrative throughout. It is hard not to feel involved and you find yourself rooting for the team from the outset. But it tells a wider story as well as it is testament to the challenges that all elite GAA athletes face on a daily basis as they strive to attain their ultimate goal – to win an All-Ireland title.

These challenges are the same whether they are seasoned veterans or new players breaking through for the first time – how to balance work, life and sport commitments, the pressure of competing at the highest level of their sport, the constant threat of injury and what to do when their sporting career ends. How will Herity and his squad deal with them as the season progresses?

Ultimately, True Blues is the story of the underdog looking to make their mark, to fight their way back to the top. It is a story of a group of players who, far from the big crowds and bright lights of Croke Park, dare to dream big and, even on the cold rainy nights as they push their bodies to the limit in training, are prepared to put in the hard yards to make that dream a reality.

Well worth a watch!

Images: Marmalade Films

There are plenty of great documentaries to watch out for on the eir sport pack every week. From football to golf, GAA, rugby, athletics and beyond, we’ve got something for everyone. Watch out next week for another fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into the sporting world or go to eirsport.ie for more sports news and stories or eir.ie to find out more about how we're setting sport free.  

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