Two All-Ireland titles in your first three years as a senior county manager isn’t bad going. In fact, it’s fairly serious business.
Brian Dowling joined the Kilkenny backroom team as a newcomer to camogie coaching in 2019, then with Ann Downey in charge. Having won the 2016 All-Ireland under Downey after so many near-misses, Kilkenny would lose the 2017, 2018 and 2019 editions before Downey departed as senior manager. Next in line was the O’Loughlin Gaels clubman in his first senior inter-county management role.
Dispatching Cork in the semi-finals that year, Galway would provide the opposition for a delayed All-Ireland decider. Having been well beaten by the Tribeswomen in the 2019 final, it was a chance to right wrongs, make amends and lay down a marker. With the season and country torn apart by the Covid pandemic, the sides would meet in Croke Park that December, no fans, no families, but would leave as All-Ireland champions.
While 2021 didn’t go according to plan, the Cats would return to Croke Park, this time against arch-rivals Cork on the first Sunday in August and in a game true to history, form and the tenacity that the Cats have shown under Dowling over the past three seasons, they came out on top by a single point to claim a third All-Ireland senior title in three years, the second under Dowling.
But the thing is, once you start winning All-Ireland titles, it can be hard for the hunger to die down, evident in Brian Dowling’s ratification as Kilkenny senior camogie manager for a fourth straight year, his fifth overall with the team.
Per Kilkenny Camogie, “At a meeting of Kilkenny Executive last night, it was unanimously agreed to put Brian Dowling forward for ratification as Senior Camogie manager for the 2023 season at the September County Board meeting on Sept 6th.”
“It will be Brian’s 4th season in charge having brought success in 2020 and again just a few weeks ago in 2022. Brian’s backroom team will all be finalised in the coming weeks. It’s great to have Brian staying as he brings continuity to the Camogie setup and his record speaks for itself and we’re delighted to have a man with so much knowledge leading our Senior team for the 2023 season.”
Dowling had hinted after Kilkenny’s All-Ireland exit to Cork in the 2021 semi-finals that he would be making a departure after two seasons at the helm but, inspired by the intermediates making their own trip to Croke Park last summer, stayed on and ultimately steered Kilkenny to Leinster and All-Ireland success this term.
Missing out on a place in this year’s league final by virtue of a draw with Cork, the Cats went the entire 2022 inter-county campaign unbeaten, ending with the O’Duffy Cup coming back to Kilkenny for a 15th time earlier this month.