Rebel legends reflect on magic moments in Cork LFGA: Game of My Life

Ger McCarthy has written a fascinating new book that put the starts of ladies football in the spotlight
Rebel legends reflect on magic moments in Cork LFGA: Game of My Life

Juliet Murphy, Cork, celebrates her side's victory in the 2013 All-Ireland final. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

AN opportunity to write ‘ Cork LGFA: Game of My Life’ was too good to turn down and proved an enjoyable experience.

Lockdown was a difficult time for everybody but it also presented an opportunity to write my second book on a favourite sporting subject.

Ladies football’s explosion of interest has afforded me the chance to cover both the Cork LGFA club and inter-county scene within the pages of the Echo over the past number of years. So, a special word of thanks to the John McHale, Éamonn Murphy and Rory Noonan for your support.

From the U12 to senior inter-county grades, a regular supply of match reports, interviews and analysis pieces led to a completely unexpected and humbling LGFA Local Journalist of the Year award in 2020.

Then, former Meath inter-county midfielder and Publisher Liam Hayes of Hero Books’ idea of producing a series of books entitled ‘ Game of My Life’ caught my attention.

The concept, interviewing 25 players from a particular county and recounting the game that changed their lives, is a simple but brilliant idea. Why not a book about Cork LGFA utilising the same genre?

Thanks to Denis Hurley’s encouragement (author of Cork Hurling: Game of My Life) and a successful sales pitch to Liam Hayes, my idea quickly became a reality.

The first and biggest challenge was deciding on which players would appear in the book. I put together a list of over 70 names and decided the players I wanted to hear from the most. That’s important, Cork LGFA - Game of My Life is not the 25 best players to ever play for Cork, far from it. It is a selection of former and current players I felt would have the most interesting stories to tell.

Thankfully, almost every player I approached bought into my idea, trusted me and agreed to get involved. There were plenty of laughs and tears during the interviewing process. The Cork players’ honesty, wit, charm, humour, openness, forthrightness, bloody-mindedness and pure love of football shone through.

I am forever grateful to each of those players for being so open about personal tragedies or speaking honestly about the low points of their careers as well as the highs.

Unsurprisingly, stories from Cork’s dominant 2005-2016 era in which eleven All-Ireland titles were annexed feature in the early chapters. Four players, Valerie Mulcahy, Angela Walsh, Deirdre O’Reilly and Briege Corkery, give different perspectives on Cork’s never-to-be-forgotten 2014 All-Ireland comeback win over Dublin.

Cork’s one-point 2016 All-Ireland final win over Dublin was chosen by both Shauna Kelly and Orlagh Farmer. Irish soccer international Saoirse Noonan talks about her first kick in senior inter-county football, a penalty against Kerry.

There are plenty of college and club games too.

Juliet Murphy and Mary O’Connor on famous Donoughmore triumphs. Orla Finn speaking about the day Maigh Cuilinn came to Kinsale for an All-Ireland club semi-final. Melissa Duggan recounting how Dohenys ended a run of three consecutive junior B county final defeats. Hannah Looney on Aghada becoming All-Ireland junior champions and Eimear Scally recalling her transfer from UCC to UL.

Marie Ambrose focuses on a St Val’s county final win. Doireann and Ciara O’Sullivan’s stories about how Mourneabbey bounced back from multiple heart-breaking county and All-Ireland final losses before finally tasting glory.

It should come as no surprise that the late Éamonn Ryan features heavily throughout the book. The strength of the former Cork manager’s influence and decency shines more brightly with each reference. Mary Collins was just as important during Cork’s successes from 2005 onwards and is rightfully praised in numerous chapters, as are the various Cork management teams.

Interestingly, the effect of Sciath na Scol and playing with and against schoolboys up through the GAA’s underage ranks were unexpected themes.

So whether you are a fan of ladies football, general sport, a club or inter-county supporter, a coach or a player, there are hundreds of useful insights to take from this book.

I hope you enjoy reading ' Cork LGFA: Game of My Life' as much as I did penning a title that will be available to purchase nationwide and online from March 28th.

The Cork LGFA players featured are Juliet Murphy, Mary O’Connor, Rena Buckley, Elaine Harte, Nollaig Cleary, Bríd Stack, Norita Kelly, Geraldine O’Flynn, Martina O’Brien, Marie Ambrose, Valerie Mulcahy, Angela Walsh, Deirdre O’Reilly, Briege Corkery, Ciara O’Sullivan, Áine Terry O’Sullivan, Shauna Kelly, Orlagh Farmer, Emma Spillane, Eimear Scally, Orla Finn, Saoirse Noonan, Doireann O’Sullivan, Hannah Looney, Melissa Duggan.

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