Double delight in Croker as Cork camogie reigns supreme

Double delight in Croker as Cork camogie reigns supreme
Strength and conditioning coach Martin O’Brien and Gemma O'Connor celebrate. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

THERE was double delight for Cork camogie at Croke Park yesterday with Kilkenny and Down vanquished to land the senior and intermediate All-Ireland titles.

Orla Cotter landed the killer blow for the seniors against the Cats, a stunning free from the left wing in the 61st minute giving Paudie Murray’s side a one-point win once more. It was their fourth All-Ireland in five seasons, only broken by a Kilkenny victory in 2016.

The game wasn’t a classic but it mattered little to Cork, especially their leaders like Aoife Murray and Gemma O’Connor, who have both now won nine senior titles each.

The intermediates had failed to get over the line at Croker in the previous two seasons but were too slick for Down on this occasion, veterans like Finola Neville, Sarah Harrington, Leah Weste, Niamh Ní Chaoimh, and Sarah Buckley getting their chance to collect the cup, while Caitriona Collins and minor sensation Saoirse McCarthy hit the key scores.

Sarah Harrington and her teammates with the Jack McGrath Cup. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Sarah Harrington and her teammates with the Jack McGrath Cup. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Both squads are due back to the South Mall tonight from 8pm, while the minors will also be feted for their earlier All-Ireland victory. 

St Finbarr’s powerhouse Gemma O’Connor hailed her team-mates for keeping their heads when the game was on the line. Last season, O’Connor and Julia White landed the last two points in a narrow win; this time, Chloe Sigerson and Cotter held their nerve from pressure frees.

“I don’t know why we do it to ourselves, a point in it,” said Gemma. “At half-time, the message was to keep our composure. Beforehand you’re trying to get yourself riled up, to get into the right frame of mind, the fighting attitude — then at half-time it’s all about ‘This is where we are now and we need to be composed.’ It’s no time to lose your head.”

The Rebels knew just how tight this duel between two very well-matched sides was going to be, far more defensive than many of the games across the summer.

“We don’t give each other an inch. I don’t know what way it is to look at — sometimes you’d wish the play would open up a small bit — but you just want to win at all costs, that’s the bottom line.

“Starting out it was 15 on 15, you minded your own patch. Now it’s so tactical… I wouldn’t say it’s a negative thing.

“At the end of the day, it’s also about the player on the ball, the decision maker, and the players making the run to create space, running to the corner flag so the ball can be hit into space. It’s about smart people making smart decisions.”

Chloe Sigerson, Hannah Looney, Laura Treacy, Orla Cotter, Libby Coppinger and Gemma O'Connor relax with the O'Duffy Cup. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Chloe Sigerson, Hannah Looney, Laura Treacy, Orla Cotter, Libby Coppinger and Gemma O'Connor relax with the O'Duffy Cup. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

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