'I love to get dressed up but you wouldn't have much time for that during the camogie season'

'I love to get dressed up but you wouldn't have much time for that during the camogie season'
Amy O'Connor with Claire Phelan of Kilkenny. Picture: INPHO/Donall Farmer

AS well as being a stylish player on the pitch, Cork camogie player Amy O’Connor can equally turn on the style off the pitch.

The Littlewoods ambassador is like most girls who love to dress up, although with a hectic schedule like hers there isn’t a whole lot of time to do so, however, when there is, she certainly knows how and she tells us about the enjoyment of a girl who practically lives in shorts and tracksuits, can get, when she gets the opportunity to dress up.

“Like most girls, I do love to get dressed up,” said O’Connor. “I love wearing fake tan and getting my hair and make-up done.

“I also love looking at different styles of different celebrities and bloggers, especially on Instagram.

“I don’t get dressed up too often, particularly during the season but when I do, I love it. I’m a big fan of bright colours but at the same time I love the darker tones for winter.

“Often during the season you wouldn’t have much time for fashion, on training days especially, as you’d be immediately going straight from college or work to training.

“However, many girls including Anna Geary have really shown that girls can be both stylish and play camogie.

“I think since Littlewoods Ireland have gotten involved with the camogie leagues it’s brilliant as it shows that just because women play sport doesn’t mean they can’t also be into their fashion.

“There’s a bit of stereotyping involved, unfortunately, but I think when people see that such a large, well-known fashion and retail store like Littlewoods Ireland has gotten involved it might help stop that stereotyping.”

Amy O'Connor keeps her eyes on the sliotar while running full pelt in Thurles. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Amy O'Connor keeps her eyes on the sliotar while running full pelt in Thurles. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

At only 22, O’Connor is already one of Cork’s most established players.

Having joined the Cork senior camogie panel in 2014, she now has four All-Ireland Senior medals under her belt. Quite the achievement really for someone so young, but it comes as no surprise, as sport is in O’Connor’s blood.

However, her first experience with camogie as a child was perhaps a fluke with a little touch of fate.

“My cousin had joined his underage hurling team and my aunt bought him all the gear from head to toe. The tracksuit, the boots, a helmet, a hurley, a jersey, shorts – everything! You name it, he got it – the works!

“But he left after about two weeks so my aunt was left with all the gear that was potentially going to waste. She asked my mam would I like to try it instead of the gear going into the bin.

“After that, my dad spent hours every evening after work with me pucking around."

Amy O'Connor turns away from Mairead Power, Waterford. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Amy O'Connor turns away from Mairead Power, Waterford. Picture: Jim Coughlan

From then on, Amy’s sporting talent grew and grew. As a teenager, she played several sports.

She went on to play on the Ireland U19 soccer team that made it to the semi-finals of the 2014 European Championships. She once played a county Gaelic football final, a championship camogie game and an All-Ireland soccer semi-final all on the same day.

Amy O'Connor drives up the field for the Cork ladies footballers in the U16 All-Ireland against Galway. Picture: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE
Amy O'Connor drives up the field for the Cork ladies footballers in the U16 All-Ireland against Galway. Picture: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

“The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was choosing between soccer and camogie, and looking back, it probably wasn’t even an ‘obstacle’.

“At the time, I thought it was an awful position to be in, but looking back I was lucky to have had to make that type of decision.

“I think sport, in general, will help you with decision-making. It helps you also with confidence in all walks of life."

Amy was born and bred in Knocknaheeny, and she couldn’t be prouder to be from there.

“I’m from Knocknaheeny and it’s an area that wouldn’t be known for many good things, unfortunately.

“There is a problem of anti-social behaviour in the area and there has been for many years. Though, I am very proud to be from there.

“Sadly for a lot of people from Knocknaheeny, everyone is painted with the same brush and that is something that really annoys me. I suppose I just want people to see it’s not all bad and those causing all the problems are in a minority.

“My club St Vincent’s — do some excellent work in the area to try and keep people involved in sport.

“I find that a lot of the time in an area like Knocknaheeny — young people don’t get to see the opportunities out there and often find themselves falling into the trap of not going to school and getting involved in things they shouldn’t.”

Education is not something that Amy takes for granted. She is the first in her family to attend third level education and credits her parents for making her have an appreciation for education.

“My mam and dad never went to college but always encouraged me to break that cycle and go to university.

“They never put any pressure on me either. I also wanted to do it for myself — I could see the roads some people my age were going down and I didn’t want that to be me.

“They always highlighted the importance of getting a good education. I’m not saying that going to university is the be-all and end-all and it isn’t for everyone but I want to give myself the best life I possibly can, and for me, I think going to college could be the best way for me to do that.”

Off the pitch and in the classroom, Amy developed a passion for science, and when she found out that her secondary school only offered biology for the Leaving Certificate, she successfully campaigned to have chemistry introduced into their curriculum.

Her interest and love for science paid off, as she gained a spot on one of UCC’s toughest courses — Pharmacy.

She graduated last summer and is currently working for biotechnology company, BioMarin Pharmaceutical, and is now completing a one-year masters in Pharmacy in the College of Surgeons.

“My placement at the moment in BioMarin allow me to have a great work/life balance as I am able to go in and start early and then finish early because of that.

“When you understand that there are a lot more important things in life than exams, work or a match, it becomes a lot easier to cope with everything.”

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