GOALKEEPER Aoife Murray and 11-time All-Star Gemma O’Connor have committed to the Cork camogie set-up for 2019, manager Paudie Murray has revealed.
The decision of both players to continue for another year is a massive boost to the All-Ireland champions and their bid to achieve the county’s first O’Duffy Cup three-in-a-row since 1973.
Murray, who recently won her eighth All-Star award, skippered Cork to their one-point All-Ireland final win over Kilkenny back in September. Now living and working in Dublin, 2019 will be the 35-year old’s 18th season with Cork.
O’Connor (33), having also joined the Cork squad in 2002, is another who is heading into her 18th inter-county campaign. Both are chasing a 10th All-Ireland medal. And with the news earlier this week that Briege Corkery is also returning, the Cork management will have much the same hand to pick from next year.
Paudie Murray says it is absolutely vital that his more experienced players have decided to remain on board.
“It has helped the dressing room greatly in that they are keeping standards high in there,” Murray remarked.
“We wouldn’t have achieved what we have achieved in recent years only for those players. And I include Rena [Buckley] in that. Briege [Corkery] coming back two months before this year’s All-Ireland final gave us a great kick because she brought a huge level of experience and a small bit of madness too, which was probably good at that time.”
The Cork manager, having come into the job late in 2011, had his mind pretty much made up that he was staying on for an eighth year once the final whistle sounded on their All-Ireland final win.
“At the beginning of the year, I had decided this was my last year, irrespective of us winning the All-Ireland or not. That changed after this year’s All-Ireland final.
“You have the possibility of three-in-a-row. We failed in that regard in 2016. There is a small bit of trying to right the wrongs, really. Second of all, when you are dealing with the bunch of players that I am dealing with, it is not easy to walk away from them either.”