I'M sure the week gone by has been a very memorable one for the Cork management and team after their thrilling victory last Sunday.
I remember the feeling well as a player, the contentment of winning the title, the relief that it was all over. And relief it was as I hated the build-up and the day itself of an All-Ireland final, the fear of losing made it almost unbearable. Of course, when you win you just want to go back and relive it all again.
I typically watch games a second time after I’ve attended it live, particularly All-Ireland finals when I’m emotionally involved, as I think you can miss moments. As we were heading for full-time in normal time I certainly missed moments as I couldn’t bear to look.
I hadn’t noticed Orla Cotter’s sweet, snappy pass to Gemma for her leveller. I did see Gemma’s point and nearly fell out over the top of the press box.
And of course, Julia’s point.
The more I watch that, the more I admire it. Had Julia swung straight she would almost certainly have been hooked and blocked, three Kilkenny defenders surrounded her. But her swing upwards, while running away from the direct path of the goal, was incredible.
What a wonder score any day of the week, not to mind it being the winner of an All-Ireland final.
Everyone knows my admiration for Aoife Murray. She has done as much for Cork camogie over the past decade as Gemma, Rena, Briege or Orla Cotter have, but as a goalkeeper she doesn’t seem to stand as visibility on the public’s pedestal.
Her position is the sole reason for that. But goalkeepers have come to play such an influential role and Aoife has an incredible impact on this team.
She was my Player of the Match in the semi-final and what a final she had. Her puck-outs, long and short, her dash/sliding dive out the wing to deny Michelle Quilty certain possession and a probeable score, her pull down on 22 minutes from the ball going over the bar, just as she did in the semi-final.
Heartfelt drive and encouragement from the goal line. What a season she has had. While I’m thrilled for Rena to be named the RTÉ Player of the Year and she absolutely deserves the accolade too, Aoife was the one for me.
I’ve met mixed reactions to the game during the week. Some were feeling it was a poor game, others were highly impressed with it.
We all knew before the game that this wasn’t going to be a high scoring, classy game. Kilkenny Captain Anna Farrell said as much in her pre-match interview on RTÉ. She highlighted the fact that it was going to be a dog fight.
And that it was. I for one was enthralled by the game. The second half had me on the edge of my seat.
And I still felt that way watching it mid-week.
The victory meant a huge amount to former players. For those of us that suffered so many losses to Kilkenny from 1985 to 1991, it was a sweet one. Even though we have had the measure of them over the past 20 years, 2016 aside, the fact that Kilkenny had taken the title 12 months ago, it was so sweet to get it back.
I thoroughly enjoy All-Ireland camogie day. It really is just a fabulous occasion. A colleague of mine questioned would it be better to bring a crowd of 20 to 25,000 to Nowlan Park or Thurles but I firmly believe that no matter what the cost, we should never take our biggest day out of Croke Park. The energy emulating from the small crowd-you’d think there was double that in the stadium.
It’s so easy to move around and meet up with so many former players from all over the country. The craic is just brilliant. It’s safe for kids, who can quite easily meet their heroes afterwards and pose for photographs.
And it’s the ultimate prize to win an All-Ireland in Croke Park.
The intermediates have it all to do again on October 1 in the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. The intermediate side just don’t seem to do themselves justice in Croke Park and I think they’ll acquit themselves better away from it. But that isn’t to say that this replay is a foregone conclusion, I was impressed with Meath in patches.
Cork will need to bring their A game. I think the fact they will have the full focus of management in the run in is a huge positive.
The one skill the side needs to work on is sideline cuts. It’s an area across the board in camogie which teams just don’t capitalise on.
It’s a free unchallenged strike and teams need to get something out of it. Both the cut itself and the team’s positioning around it is important.