By Paul O'Neill
Kilkenny star Anne Dalton insists revenge will not be a motivating factor when they tackle Galway in the All-Ireland senior camogie semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday.
Last year, Galway proved too strong for the Leinster side in the All-Ireland decider, coming out on top by five points.
But Dalton claims simply the chance to qualify for the final – and not trying to make amends for that loss to Galway 11 months ago – will be the main motivation for Kilkenny when they travel to Limerick on Sunday.
She said: "What happened in the All-Ireland final is having no bearing at all on how we are approaching this game.
"The way we see it is that was last season and we have moved on since then as nothing can change the result. Also, revenge is not something we are considering, because Galway deserved to win on that occasion and we did not play to our potential.
"For us the driving force will be simply going for the victory and getting into the final once again."
Kilkenny, who are without an All-Ireland title since 1994, have been one of the most improved teams in the game over the last six years.
In that time, the Cats have featured in two All-Ireland finals, while they have won the National League twice and much of their progress has been built on successful underage sides.
However, former All-Ireland minor winner Dalton does not entertain talk just yet of the Kilkenny seniors having to deliver on their promise by lifting the All-Ireland this term.
"For sure we have come on over the last few years, but I think it would be wrong to speak now of it being a must for us to win the All-Ireland," Dalton declared.
"Perhaps that is something we could consider if we get into the final, but we are only at the semi-final stage now.
"We cannot look beyond the Galway game because if we did then we could slip up. Unfortunately we have come up short a few times in the championship before so we are not getting carried away with where we are."
Kilkenny finished off the league with a 100% record and carried that impressive form into Group 2 of the Liberty Insurance Championship, where they won all their games and claimed top spot to qualify automatically for the semi-finals.
The county's intermediate team are already through to the All-Ireland final in their grade as Kilkenny bid to emulate Galway and Wexford, who have both completed the intermediate and senior double over the last three years.
Both of the Kilkenny squads train together on a regular basis and Dalton says the arrangement has helped the seniors in their own quest for All-Ireland glory.
She added: "I think having the squads working together has proved to be an excellent idea for the respective sets of players.
"The spirits have been quite high in the camp with us all doing well and we have benefited from some very competitive training games. It has worked well for us so far, just as it has for other counties in the past."
Meanwhile, Dalton is convinced the Kilkenny seniors, under joint-managers Graham Dillon and Niall Williams, have got stronger this year as they continue to chase their All-Ireland dream.
She feels their squad is now that bit more mature and has been boosted by the introduction of Ireland hockey international Áine Connery for this season.
Dalton explained: "Compared to this time last year, we are more experienced from having played in the All-Ireland final and then becoming League champions.
"Featuring in the latter stages of the championship and the league was something new for a few of the players and I think it has stood to us.
"I also believe that Áine's inclusion in the squad has been a big help. She is well known in hockey circles but is also a talented camogie player and is a team-mate of mine with St Lachtain's in Kilkenny.
"All in all there is tremendous strength in depth in our squad with stiff competition for places in the starting 15.
"Anyone who makes the side cannot afford to take their spot for granted as there are lots of other options for the management if they feel they need to change things."
Saturday 23 August
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final -Cork v Wexford (Semple Stadium, 2.0)
Sunday 24 August
Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final - Galway v Kilkenny (Gaelic Grounds, 4.0).