THEY may be big boots to fill, but Na Piarsaigh goalkeeper Amy Lee is confident she can be the long-term successor to Aoife Murray on the Cork camogie team. Following a glittering career with the Reblettes which saw her
garnering a phenomenal haul
of nine All-Ireland titles and seven All-Stars, Murray officially announced her retirement from the inter-county scene in March of this year.
A senior panelist since 2015, Lee was between the sticks for Cork’s comprehensive National League victories against Waterford and Kilkenny in the spring. Despite being Murray’s understudy up to this point, the CIT graduate already has considerable experience under her belt.
“I played the whole league in 2015 and the Munster championship I would have played the same again. If there were six games, we’d always get three each,” Lee says.
“Obviously, come championship you need the one person all the time. It’s not too bad stepping up now, especially as the same girls are in the back line. I’m used to the way they play. Hopefully, I’ll be flying if I’m thrown in there.”
Nonetheless, Lee says Murray’s presence was missed in the early part of the season and is hopeful of maintaining the high standards set by the Cloughduv keeper.
“Training is different. You would miss her giving out now. I’m not going to lie, you would!
"She’d put you in your place, she was always good for that. She’d praise you when you needed praise and she’d tell you ‘cop on’ when you needed it.
“There’s two goalies now and we’ll have to drive each other on. She definitely taught me loads and I’ve been there since 2015. I suppose I have to take the reins a bit now and take my chance, while I can.”
While Aoife’s older brother Kevin has also stepped away from his role as selector, the Murray clan will continue to be represented in this Cork set-up. After taking some time to mull over his future, team manager Paudie Murray decided to remain at the helm of the Leesiders.
Given how much she has achieved under his stewardship with three senior All-Irelands and a national intermediate title in 2018, Lee was thrilled to see him committing for another year.
“It’s unbelievable and he just can’t seem to stop. He just seems to bring something new or something different every year. He’s so professional,
training is unbelievable all the time. He does look after us, he’s always watching out for us and trying to give us advice.
“He’d ring me a few times or he’d ring a few of the girls. See how we’re getting on. Especially, if you’re slacking off a bit, ‘come up and practice a few puck-outs or come up and practice your frees’. I can’t fault him really.”
Having played the waiting game for so long, Lee finally returned to group training with Na Piarsaigh on June 29. Considering how many of her club-mates were anticipating a 2020 that was bereft of club action, she feels the forthcoming return of competitive fare has brought a new kind of energy to the squad.
“We were all doing stuff individually for a long time. It’s nice to actually see people now. We’ve a training plan until our first championship game and we’ll see after that. It’s weird interacting with people,” she says.
“You’d still be interacting a small bit, but seeing everyone, there’s a buzz around. Because most people thought it was going to be called off. Now everyone is buzzing that we’re getting a few games and it’s not going to be in the depths of winter. It will be good.”
Like the GAA and the LGFA, the Camogie Association have opted to resume club activity in the coming weeks with the various inter-county championships to follow in October, despite some calls to run the All-Ireland series at an earlier date.
While she doesn’t have a definitive opinion on which level of competition should be given initial preference, Lee can see the logic behind the decision.
“There’s more facilities available for us as inter-county. It might work a bit better. Obviously clubs, especially camogie clubs, won’t have the luxury of going down to Páirc Uí Chaoimh or say up to WIT. It honestly doesn’t matter to me which one comes first. Either way, you’re going to have people giving out. They might as well stick with their plan now,” Lee said.