Cork's camogie victory over Kilkenny was one of the highlights of 2017

Cork's camogie victory over Kilkenny was one of the highlights of 2017
Cork’s Orla Cronin and Ann Dalton of Kilkenny. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

CORK camogie star Orla Cronin was thrilled to play a crucial role in propelling the Rebels to All-Ireland senior final glory this season.

The ace forward struck three points, all from play which contributed immensely to Cork winning their 27th senior All-Ireland title. Orla was pleased to help Cork avenge their final defeat against Kilkenny the previous year. 

"I suppose between this year's success and last years disappointment, it definitely showed the highs and the lows involved in sport. Losing finals are hard to take and hard to forget about, but winning one overcomes it all. 

"There is no better feeling."

Cork emerged victorious by one point following their dramatic win against Kilkenny.  The Cats had a great chance to go one point up with ten minutes remaining, but they were left to rue their missed opportunity as the Rebelettes finished strongly to secure a dramatic victory. 

Orla has a clear recollection of the late drama. 

"It was fierce dramatic.  It was very intense stuff. I remember Denise Gaule getting a free out by the sideline for them to go one point up on 60 minutes. 

"I just stood there praying to God she'd hit it wide. It must have worked. It was some relief at the final whistle. 

"I was thrilled that we won obviously, but that it didn't end in a draw either. 

"That would have been very anti-climatic. We enjoyed great celebrations which are still going. 

"It was a sweet win."

Ashling Thompson celebrates with Orla Cronin. Picture: INPHO/Gary Carr
Ashling Thompson celebrates with Orla Cronin. Picture: INPHO/Gary Carr

Julia White, emerged the heroine for the Cork senior camogie team.  The former captain has overcome a series of injuries over the last two years. 

She notched the winning score in the 66th minute. Orla was delighted for her colleague. 

"It was some point by Julia. I was so delighted for her. 

"She's had a fierce tough time with injuries in the last two years and has been working really hard to get back. Her winning point really showed her class and her experience from years past. 

"There was nobody going to stop her when she got the ball and she got us over the line."

Cork's latest All-Ireland final triumph also ensured their talismatic captain Rena Buckley has now captured an historic 18 All-Ireland senior medals in both codes, which represents a truly phenomenal haul for the decorated star.  Orla is full of praise for her brilliant team-mate. 

"Rena is some player and just a savage sportsperson. "She's probably the most successful player in GAA. 

"It is no surprise because she has an unbelievable work ethic and does everything to her maximum potential. 

"There's no stone left unturned with Rena. It's unreal to be able to play and train alongside her. 

"I've learned so much from her."

Kilkenny’s captain Anna Farrell and captain Rena Buckley. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Kilkenny’s captain Anna Farrell and captain Rena Buckley. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Another Cork stalwart Gemma O'Connor shrugged off a knee injury to play a colossal role. Orla was thrilled the St Finbarr's star was able to play a prominent role in their latest victory.

"Gemma was super. It was obviously worrying when Gemma got injured in the semi-final and it wasn't looking good coming closer to All-Ireland final day. 

"With Gemma, however, you know she'll put her heart and soul into getting back fit for an All-Ireland final, which she achieved. We had trained with the expectation that Gemma wouldn't play, but when she passed the fitness test for the game, it was a huge boost. 

"Her presence alone would boost any team. The point she got at the end was brilliant. 

"I'd say the ball is still travelling into Dublin city."

Orla, who was named the Player of the Match following her virtuoso display in the All-Ireland final was thrilled with how her season unfolded throughout the 2017 senior inter-county campaign. 

"I'm so delighted with my year. We started back early in December 2016 and I suppose there was a lot of things to address and to work on for every individual and the team as a whole after the disappointment of losing the previous final. 

"I guess when things don't pan out the way you want them to one year, you want to work really hard to rectify the mistakes and improve on other things, and that's what I did. 

"I'm just delighted it paid off. The whole year was a work in progress really, and I think myself as well as the team peaked at the right time when it mattered."

Gemma O'Connor with Julie Ann Malone of Kilkenny. Picture: INPHO/Gary Carr
Gemma O'Connor with Julie Ann Malone of Kilkenny. Picture: INPHO/Gary Carr

The modest star was thrilled to receive the Player of the Match accolade following her scoring contribution against Kilkenny. 

Orla was delighted with the honour but felt any one of her team-mates could have received the personal recognition. It was a great honour to get it. "It could have been given to so many of the other girls too as the whole team performed so well on the day. 

"The main thing was to secure victory in the All-Ireland final, but it was a nice accolade."

Orla also enjoyed a very strong club campaign with her beloved Enniskeane who were defeated in the Intermediate county final for the second successive season.

"We have a great team coming through. There's good interest there in the underage. 

"It was heartbreaking to lose our second consecutive final.  We're very close to it and will definitely be competing for it again next year. 

"We're developing all the time which is the main thing and I'm sure our day will come."

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