A Cork camogie star in New York... Orla Cotter adjusts to a new life in the Big Apple as Covid-19 puts sport on hold

A Cork camogie star in New York... Orla Cotter adjusts to a new life in the Big Apple as Covid-19 puts sport on hold
St Catherine’s Orla Cotter gets away from Cloughduv's Aishling Kelleher to score a point, during their Cork Senior Camogie Championship clash at Castle Road last September. Picture: David Keane.

WHEN the final whistle went in the Gaelic Grounds last August as Cork’s dream of three-in-a-row was ended by Galway, it signalled a significant moment for five-times All-Star Orla Cotter.

Few knew that six weeks later she was about to embark on a life-changing move to the Big Apple as husband Mark took up a new role with his employer and the St Catherine's ace took a career break from teaching Irish and PE at Midleton College.

Cotter is now six months into their new life in the USA, though the pause button is currently pressed due to the Coronavirus which has had the same impact on the East Coast of the States as it has on these shores.

“We’ve really enjoyed the last few months, we’ve been to a few Broadway shows and Basketball games in Madison Square Garden,” Orla Cotter said. “It’s nice to be able to take advantage of living so close to all these events.

“We’re living just across the water from Manhattan in Jersey City and so it’s a little quieter than the madness of New York City.”

For Orla and Waterford native Mark it was a massive lifestyle change.

“The first few weeks were a big change alright, getting used to our new surroundings and the PATH and metro systems became our new mode of transport. I’m still figuring out the metro system but thank God for Google maps!

“Obviously we missed, and still miss, our friends and family at home as well. We don’t have any relatives in New York and on coming over we really only knew Mark’s boss and his wife whom I’m very good friends with now.

“It was a very big change alright to go from a life of routine and structure to, all of sudden, having a blank schedule."

Cotter still hasn't made any decision about her own career.

"I suppose coming out here I knew that was to be the case and so I had to try to look at it as an opportunity to try some new things and research what I might potentially work at out here, I still haven’t figured that one out yet.

“It has its plusses though — living here has also given us an opportunity to travel within the US which is something we obviously didn’t do too much of before.”

Camogie has played a huge part of her life up to now, with six senior All-Irelands. How is she coping without it?

“I wasn’t here long when I made contact with the local camogie club Liberty Gaels, but their season had obviously finished and wouldn’t be starting up until March."

That is up in the air now because of Covid-19.

“Jane McCooey, the chairperson of the club was very good in helping me out and I’ve met up with her a few times. I’ve also touched base with some underage teams so I might hopefully do some training sessions with them at some stage. 

"I was looking forward to starting training with Liberty Gaels this month, but obviously in light of the current situation we are yet to start.”

They are coping with the restrictions, as Mark now works from home.

“Mark’s office over in Brookfield Place closed and so he’s now working from home for the foreseeable future. My work visa came through last week and so I can now work over here, but I’ll have to wait for another few weeks before schools and businesses get back up and running. 

"I’ve done a course in Spanish and also have done a few online courses so I’m keeping myself somewhat busy.”

Like many couples and families in Ireland, Orla and Mark and now office colleagues!

“Yes, I suppose we’ve never seen so much of each other these last few months and especially in light of his working from home at present.

“It has been nice to be able to plan weekend trips without worrying about upcoming training or games or even heading to a concert on a Thursday night which would have been a typical training night at home.”

Her last camogie action came in November, as part of the 2018 All-Star side that took on their 2019 counterparts in the Big Apple.

“I was only here maybe six weeks when the All-Star group came out, so that was so nice having a good few Cork girls to show around my new city. Two years ago we were in Madrid on the inaugural All-Star tour and had a good old laugh.

“The game was good and competitive it’s always a little bit more relaxed going in to play an exhibition game like that. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses. It’s good fun.”

For now, it's unlikely Cotter will be returning to Rebel red.

“We’ll stay here for another bit anyway, play it by ear and see what happens, we will definitely try and get home during the summer for a bit, and who knows if there’s a match or two on, I’d only be too happy to tog out.”

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