Any camogie players that goes 16 years waiting for glory is an inspiration

Linda Mellerick battled Therese Maher in her early days, an All-Ireland had to wait until 2013
Any camogie players that goes 16 years waiting for glory is an inspiration

Linda Mellerick of Cork and Olivia Broderick of Galway battling it out in 1998. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

WHAT an inspiration the TG4 Laochra Gael show featuring Galway’s Therese Maher was last week.

Too often we don’t look behind the player, their personal lives and what drives them.

Therese spent her entire career trying to win an All-Ireland senior title with Galway. She made her debut in 1997 at 16 years of age and finished in 2013, aged 32 with an All-Ireland medal finally tucked away and she then called time on her inter-county career.

There are so many inter-county players that go through their careers without winning an All-Ireland medal.

But when you reach so many finals and lose, it’s hard. People talk about the heartache the Mayo footballers must feel. They aren’t alone.

I was captain of Cork when Therese made her debut. And we won the 1997 and 1998 finals, defeating Galway.

There was little between us at the time. We were favourites to win the 1996 title and they caught us to win their first title.

They were a stronger outfit in ’97 and it took an excellent performance from us, particularly from Lynn Dunlea and Vivienne Harris to win 0-15 to 2-5.

Linda Mellerick after the 1997 win. Picture: Billy Stickland/INPHO
Linda Mellerick after the 1997 win. Picture: Billy Stickland/INPHO

I’ll never forget 1998 and the driving wind and rain when Eithne Duggan captained us to a 2-13 to 0-15 victory.

We won by four points and many will have seen Denise Gilligan’s wide in the closing minutes last week when a goal seemed certain. Denise tweeted after the show that she lived with that nightmare miss for 20 years.

Unfortunately, I’m sure she did but credit must be given to our own Denise Cronin who came in from the right and dived full stretch to put her off.

I’m convinced Gilly, as she’s affectionally known, saw her coming from the corner of her eye and it had the desired effect. Such is sport and we were overjoyed with that win.

At 17, Therese probably believed at the time that it was only a matter of time before she got her hands on a medal.

But nothing is a foregone conclusion in sport and many semi-finals and three further final defeats in 2008, 2010 and 2011 and Therese was ready to give up.

Therese Maher running at Rachel Moloney, Cork, in 2010. Picture: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE
Therese Maher running at Rachel Moloney, Cork, in 2010. Picture: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

But she dusted herself down and went at it again in 2012 only to lose at the semi-final stage. It was in 2013 that her dream became a reality.

She had personal tragedy in between, losing her mother and father, and she highlights that camogie got her through that, it was a way to channel her anger and sense of loss.

She made a few points that many of us could relate to when she said.

“There was probably a stage where I took camogie very, very seriously. When you’re so focused on trying to win an All-Ireland, sometimes I look back now and think, did I really enjoy the journey or was I just so focused on winning that All-Ireland? I did enjoy it, but did I enjoy it enough?

“At the time when you’re in it I don’t think you enjoy it as much, but as I get older... and I think that only comes with maturity."

MURRAY'S RETURN

Paudie Murray has been ratified as Cork senior camogie manager for the 10th year in succession.

He told me a few weeks ago that he wants to leave Cork camogie in a better place than when he found it and with a number of players having retired and Cork in part transitioning he feels there is still work to do.

He has won four All-Ireland titles during the past nine seasons. Appearing in six finals since Paudie came on board, Cork won titles in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018.

He brings back some of those he enjoyed success with in the past such as Teddy Donovan, who was coach to Aoife Murray for a number of years and Matthew Twomey, previously involved in 2014 and 2016.

Matthew’s energy and passion is infectious. He had a great rapport with the girls in the past and was instrumental in gelling them together and playing like a club team.

Paudie has always tried to keep things fresh with his backroom team and he has had a number of really strong mentors in his setup over the years.

Mark McCarthy of Inniscarra starts his second term as Intermediate manager.

It was a disappointing first year for him in 2020 as they never really got off the ground with the association removing Cork’s second team from the championship in an attempt to get championships completed on time. 2021 could prove difficult again.

But we’ll wait and see and wish both sets of management the very best of luck.

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