LAST week I received a call from someone who, to be quite blunt about it, wasn’t impressed with my recent column on the various charitable fundraising events organised by Cork clubs.
The reason? Her beloved St Vincent’s Camogie club, who had raised €4,200 for Pieta House and Mná Fasa, did not get a mention.
I proffered my defence and offered an apology. I didn’t know Michelle Gould before, as I haven’t featured many passionate camogie individuals on this page but I wasn’t going to waste this opportunity.
For 30-plus years she has been a playing member of the northside club, her first memory is joining the underage movement where Niall Murphy was the main driving force.
If this article was based on Michelle’s camogie trophy collection, it would fit on the back of a handy-sized stamp. Her only county medal was the U18 premier county championship.
She then joined the junior A team and in her first year, they got to a county final only to be defeated by Milford. Incidentally, that Milford side became one of the most successful club sides in the country culminating in All-Ireland glory.
Ever since she and her St Vincent’s colleagues have been on the mission to win county glory and over the years have heartbreakingly lost to the eventual county champions.
In her younger days, she was an effective full-forward; nowadays she is the team goalkeeper.
After another county semi-final defeat in 2019, she decidedto retire without that coveted medal.
This year arrived, Danny Morrissey from the Na Piarsaigh club took on the coaching duties and she decided to give it one more go. She is now 41.
Can her dream become a reality? We will keep a watching brief.
That search for a county medal is only one aspect of her camogie life. She is the St Vincent’s secretary, shares PR duties with two others and manages the U14 team as well, some contribution. It should also be mentioned that her two daughters Aoife (14) and Orlaith (10) both play with St Vincent’s.
Last year in addition to her St Vincent’s commitments, she was involved with three Cork teams, U16 (goalkeeping coach), junior (selector) and intermediates (stats). I am not sure if I have ever come across a GAA player who hasn’t missed a championship season because of holidays or work but Michelle has covered 26 seasons.
When she married Thomas, now a TD after the last election, back in 2005, she arranged the wedding for April of that year. After sustaining an ACL injury in a match a few years ago she was back in action for the following championship season.
Michelle also lined out for Seandún for nine years and back in those days, you had to attend trials to be considered for selection. A number of her wedding day guests were from this era of her sporting life an indication of the friendships forged.
Two games from this period stand out: The first a win over the Glen at Páirc Uí Rinn where she scored 1-1 in a notable victory.
On another occasion, they reached the quarter-final against Cloughduv. She was in goals and the city side felt that they had a right good chance as it was rumoured that the mid Cork team would be missing their goalkeeper Aoife Murray.
During the puck-around in Brinny, Michelle noticed a helicopter overhead which eventually landed on the second pitch. Her heart sank a tad when Murray hopped out before playing a blinder in a one-point win!
Michelle also got to wear the red of Cork and won a Munster intermediate medal in 2002.
She grew up in Knocknaheeney and still lives in the area. She had the advantage of growing up in a supportive home with her two brothers Barry and Anthony and where her parents Ann and the late Barry Cotter placed serious value on education and sport.
After attending secondary school in McSwiney College where her brother Barry was on the teaching staff, she enrolled in UCC as an Arts student. After a period, she dropped out but following family advice she signed up for a Sports Injuries Course in Scoil Stiofain Naofa.
While at this institution, she was afforded the opportunity to play in a third level camogie competition where Bertie Óg Murphy was her coach. Michelle then worked in insurance but teaching called to here and she returned to education as a mature student.
She went back to UCC as a PE and History student and returned to McSwiney College for her placement. For the past eight years, she has taught in Loreto Secondary School, Fermoy.
Unsurprisingly, she immersed herself in the promotion of camogie and they’ve lifted 10 trophies in seven seasons.
Three years ago the haul was the Munster and All-Ireland Senior D as well as the Cork Colleges Intermediate championships. The school also won a Munster and All-Ireland U14.5 seven-a-side competition, getting the better of Coláiste Muire, Ennis, coached by Clare hurler Tony Kelly.
Other sports? Michelle had a brief flirtation with tennis after landing an Irish Examiner championship and was selected on Cork U14 and U15 teams but the lure of camogie ended that.
As a scrum-half and possibly the only one smaller than Peter Stringer she won a school rugby competition with her beloved McSwiney College.
About 17 years ago, she took up darts and the late Timmy Jones gave her a wild card entry which enabled her to represent Cork. She ended up winning three Munsters in a row as well as two All-Irelands.
Two years ago, St Vincent’s and Delanys joined forces to provide their respective communities the opportunity to play ladies football and yes, you have guessed it, Michelle decided she should give this sport a try.