Pride of Na Piarsaigh Amy Lee has stepped up to replace a camogie legend

Pride of Na Piarsaigh Amy Lee has stepped up to replace a camogie legend

Cork's Amy Lee in action against Waterford. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

FOR 18 seasons Aoife Murray was the number one camogie goalkeeper for Cork. 

Come the big championship games she was always the first automatic name on the team sheet. 

For five seasons Na Piarsaigh’s Amy Lee was Aoife’s standby, rarely called upon during those championship games, but remaining patient and learning all the time.

2020 came and with the retirement of Aoife after last year’s semi-final defeat to Galway Amy Lee became number one and it’s fair to say that Aoife who will be 25 this month, is more than holding her own between the posts. 

While it seems a huge step up with big boots to fill Amy says that this isn’t a baptism of fire for her as she has been in the squad for five years and has developed nicely under the guidance of Aoife and the management of Paudie Murray. 

"I’m not a raw baby really. I know the girls a long time now. I’ve been in the dressing room and heard all the advice and game plans during that time," Lee said. 

"When I first came on the panel in 2015 I played all the league games. I’ve had loads of game time over the past number of seasons. It is a small bit daunting if I dwell on it filling the boots of Aoife but we spent so long training together and there were many games when I stepped into goal and she was on the line. 

Cork goalkeeper Amy Lee. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Cork goalkeeper Amy Lee. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

"She helped me loads, even though we used to kill each other.

"We got on very well and I learned so much from her. Mark McNulty and Sean Cremin have spent a lot of time with me this year. 

"We might start our session a half hour before the others and get our bits done. Sometimes we’ll spend the full session together, other times we’ll join the rest of the group for part of it. 

"I feel I’ve come on hugely over the past few years. You’ll get advice from different people and you’ll learn what’s good for you. 

"It takes a while to iron out all the small silly habits you get into as a goalkeeper but I can see a lot of those having left me. 

"Things like not making the right decisions, when to go and when not to, puckouts etc."

It’s a proud time for her club Na Piarsaigh. I’m trying to recall the last Na Piarsaigh player to hold down a position on Corks senior team. I stand to be corrected but I think it could be Paula Goggins back in the '90s. 

Amy’s mother Angie moved back to Ireland when Amy was 10 and her sister Shannon was five. 

The three have a tight bond. As soon as they landed in Upper Fair Hill Amy was off down to her local club as she was mad to play camogie. 

"I was always sporty as a child. In the UK I played Gaelic football and soccer, out with the boys all the time, but I was dying to play camogie and went straight down to Na Piarsaigh."

Playing with Cork never entered Amy’s head. She didn’t have idols as she rarely watched games. 

Na Piarsaigh captain Amy Lee in 2017. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Na Piarsaigh captain Amy Lee in 2017. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

She just went along with the club and even though she was selected on Cork U15 and U16 development squads and made the minor panel, you get the impression from Amy that she just went with the flow.

That call-up to the senior panel in 2015 may finally have awakened something in Amy to realise that she was a good keeper. 

She is now turning into a very good keeper with a lot more still to learn.

She credits Na Piarsaigh for her standing today.

 "I love playing for the club and am here today because of them. I really enjoyed this summer with them. 

"We didn’t have a lot of luck with two ACL injuries and were disappointed not to do better than we did but it was really nice to train fully with them for the campaign and hopefully we’ll do better next year."

Ahead of the All-Ireland semi-final against old rivals Kilkenny Amy isn’t overwhelmed with the task in front of her. In fact, it’s just the opposite. 

"I can’t wait. I love the big days. I won’t panic and am really looking forward to it. I feel I still have a lot to learn. Just watching all the games which were streamed over the last few weeks, I feel the game is starting to evolve and I’m going to evolve with it."

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