Matthew Twomey interview: Davy Fitz will bring a buzz to Cork camogie

New Cork camogie manager has a tough act to follow in replacing Paudie Murray but has one of the most famous figures in GAA on board to assist
Matthew Twomey interview: Davy Fitz will bring a buzz to Cork camogie

Former Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald will bring a lot of experience to the Cork camogie set-up. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

FOR the first time in 11 seasons Cork camogie will have a new voice leading their dressing room.

It’s not an unfamiliar voice; Matthew Twomey has been involved with Cork’s elite squad intermittently for a total of five years during Paudie Murray’s 10-year reign.

This time though, he’s the boss, and it’s a position he feels privileged to be in.

“It’s a massive honour. I suppose this time 12 months ago I wasn’t even involved in the 2021 management, but when Paudie offered me a particular role I was very happy with it,” Twomey said.

“It was kind of down my alley, dealing with the players, trying to get the dressing room into a very good place, and that was exciting, so the year itself, I feel we had a good year.

“I suppose heading into the All-Ireland we were the best prepared I’d ever seen the team, just on the day itself our conversion rate wasn’t good enough. Galway beat us, probably a bit of inexperience in us, but since then to get this role, it’s a huge honour for me.

“It was always something that was on my radar and now that it’s mine it’s just a massive honour. One thing I’d have to say going into next year is that we’re not going to press the nuclear button on it.

“This year was good enough, with just some tweaking to go into it. We’ll bring our own characters.”

Matthew Twomey is the new Cork camogie coach. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Matthew Twomey is the new Cork camogie coach. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

That includes getting former Clare, Waterford, and Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald in for a coaching role.

“Having Davy Fitz on board is a massive coup, there’s a great buzz about the place. It’s great for Cork camogie, but it's also huge for the Camogie Association in general that people like Davy are looking to come into camogie and it's not frowned upon anymore.

“Paudie was brilliant, what he did for Cork camogie over the past 10 years was huge, but we’ll just put our own mark on it now. 

Davy is his own character, I’m my own character, I’d be very player orientated as well so we’ll see how that goes.”

Looking back on last year’s All-Ireland final, when Katrina Mackey got her goal on 48 minutes, it looked as if Cork would kick on. They didn’t, but they were so close, so it’s not as if drastic changes are needed?

“No... we had a couple of bad wides after Katrina’s goal, we had a chance of another goal. The disappointing thing I suppose is that rather than pushing on, we sat back. We drew them on to us and they’d more experience with being in the last couple of finals.

“We had five girls who started in their first All-Ireland final. They’re after two trips to Croke Park now after last year’s semi-final and final and that’s going to bring them on massively.

‘’Linda Collins is out for the year, working abroad; we’d be hoping to have Hannah Looney back early next year. We’ve also got Sorcha McCartan from Down who has transferred to us so that’s a huge asset. Some of the girls will be wiser as well.

“As things go with the top four or five, we’ve the youngest squad with only one player over 30.

“Laura Treacy is one of our more experienced players now and is only 25 or 26. The Mackeys are around 27.”

Kilkenny’s Grace Walsh and Kellyann Doyle with Katrina Mackey of Cork battle in last season's final. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Kilkenny’s Grace Walsh and Kellyann Doyle with Katrina Mackey of Cork battle in last season's final. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

The league starts in February, the championship at the end of May with the All-Ireland final on August 6-7.

It will be a compact 32 weeks and Cork got their season underway in early December with a fitness test in Banteer.

‘’We’re just trying to get our fitness up now and get a couple of challenge matches in ahead of the league. Some players are still playing club championship and others are playing Ashbourne, so we’ll just have to keep an eye on that one.”

EVOLUTION

Twomey has seen camogie progress hugely since he first got involved with the Cork senior team in 2014.

“I suppose, looking at it back in 2014, I came in with the view that the players were going to learn from me. If I’m honest, I learned more from the players.

The current set-ups, the fitness, the skill levels, the tweaking of rules recently certainly helped the game. It’s more exciting.

“Our semi-final and final last year were mammoth games. I still would have preferred to have won a poor final than lose a classic, but it just shows where the game is at, the bar is rising all the time, fitness has gone through the roof and the physicality of the players is brilliant.”

Cork lost a number of players over the past few years to retirement. True leaders. Is Cork still missing those leaders?

“You’ll always take players stepping up and since Gemma O’Connor, Aoife Murray, and Orla Cotter left we have replaced them. Definitely this year some players stood up and we’re hoping, as a management team, to almost force other players to step up.

“Players need to come of age now. We don’t care if that player is only 18 or 19. Its either in there or it’s not.”

Involved from 2014-2016 and back in the fold in 2020, Twomey now holds the top job and is targeting silverware.

“We’re going to take the league very seriously. Cork haven’t won it for a few years so we’re very focused on trying to get a good league campaign. We were close this year when reaching the semi-final.

“We’re going to have a good rap off it while all the while doing strength and conditioning. The next six weeks will be torture for the players. You get to know each other a lot better when you’re suffering like that and you find out who the leaders are. You can tell from even our first day back, you can see the drive is there in the girls. Their demeanour is good.”

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