Teams of the decade: Linda Mellerick picks her best 15 Cork camogie players

Teams of the decade: Linda Mellerick picks her best 15 Cork camogie players
Cork camogie legend Gemma O'Connor was outstanding for the whole decade in Rebel red. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

CORK camogie collected four All-Irelands in the past decade: 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018.

Five players were a constant during those 2010-2019 years and are easy pickings for the Team of the Decade; Aoife Murray, Gemma O’Connor, Orla Cotter, Pamela Mackey, and Katrina Mackey.

In goal is Aoife Murray, in my opinion the best goalkeeper in the country over the past decade. She possesses leadership qualities, in addition to an aerobatic style, brilliant saves, and bravery.

At right corner-back is Joanne O’Callaghan. Joanne was the type of corner-back forwards hate. She got the job done. A solid defender. Captained Cork to honours in 2006 and retired after Cork’s All-Ireland win in 2014.

Anna Geary and Joanne O'Callaghan.
Anna Geary and Joanne O'Callaghan.

Anna Geary takes the full-back position and was versatile elsewhere if required. One of Anna’s greatest traits was her ability to win the ball in a ruck.

With hurleys and bodies scrummaging for the sliotar it was inevitable that Anna would emerge with it. Turned many a defensive situation into an attacking position for Cork.

Completing the full-back line is Killeagh’s Laura Treacy. A teak-tough defender. An attacking player who can mark the best of forwards.

At right half-back is Rena Buckley who retired after Cork’s 2017 All-Ireland victory as captain. Rena’s work-rate, reading of the game and her composure under pressure made her one of Cork’s best defenders.

What hasn’t already been said about the magnificent Gemma O’Connor at centre-back?

Unquestionably one of Cork’s greatest athletes. She has been a constant in Cork’s line up for the past 18 seasons.

Pamela Mackey nationally hasn’t always got the plaudits she deserved but we know how valuable she is in Cork. The tight marking, diligence, speed and hurling of Cork’s defender makes her an automatic choice.

At midfield Orla Cotter has won numerous Player of the Match awards throughout championship campaigns.

Her phenomenal work-rate, distribution and effortless striking is a joy. Add in her impeccable free taking, under immense pressure at times, and she was the perfect player for Cork.

Alongside Orla at midfield was another tremendous athlete. Her physics, strength, and hurling made Ashling Thompson a feared opponent. When Ashling was on song, so were Cork. Her long-range point scoring from both left and right was top class.

The legend that is Briege Corkery is our right half-forward. Such is the versatility of Briege she has figured in every line of the pitch at some stage during the decade. Renowned for her work-rate, speed and solo runs, she set up many a Cork attack.

Douglas’s Julia White at centre-forward has been on the Cork team since 2013. While hindered in recent times with injuries there is no doubt that when fully fit Julia has played a huge role in Cork’s success. Light of feet and with great speed who will forget her All-Ireland winning point in 2017 against Kilkenny.

One of Cork’s best forwards during the decade has been Jenny O’Leary. Retired after the 2014 All-Ireland win, her contribution for those four years was immense.

Her small stature and incredible speed made her impossible to mark. With four All-Ireland titles and eight All-Stars to her name her goal in the 2014 final turned the game Cork’s way.

Amy O’Connor received her first All-Star in 2019 but was been nominated a number of times. She’s been a regular in Cork’s starting line up since 2015.

Her lightning pace and side-stepping techniques leave defenders in her wake.

Síle Burns may not have won an All-Ireland with Cork during this time, having retired in 2013, but you can’t ignore her personal contribution during those four seasons.

She played consistently well in the Cork jersey. A lethal goal scorer. She scored two late points to earn a dramatic draw for Cork in the 2010 All Ireland semi-final.

The final slot in the Team of the Decade goes to Katrina Mackey. When sprinting for goal there is no Cork forward, you’d like to see in that position more than Katrina.

Her finish is clinical. Five All-Ireland titles and five All-Stars, testament to her standing in camogie circles. Great speed and a free scoring forward.

Katrina Mackey gathers the ball from Kilkenny's Mairead Power. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Katrina Mackey gathers the ball from Kilkenny's Mairead Power. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CORK CAMOGIE: Aoife Murray; Joanne O’Callaghan, Anna Geary, Laura Treacy; Rena Buckley, Gemma O’Connor, Pamela Mackey; Orla Cotter, Ashling Thompson; Briege Corkery, Julia White, Jenny O’Leary; Amy O’Connor, Síle Burns, Katrina Mackey.

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