Cork LGFA Game of My Life: Briege Corkery on an epic comeback at Croker

In an extract from Ger McCarthy’s new book, Cork LGFA Game of My Life, Briege Corkery recalls one of Cork’s greatest All-Ireland final comebacks.
Cork LGFA Game of My Life: Briege Corkery on an epic comeback at Croker

Cork captain Briege Corkery raises the Brendan Martin trophy after defeating Dublin in the 2014 All-Ireland final. Picture: Eddie O’Hare

September 28, 2014 TG4 All-Ireland LGFA SFC final, Croke Park

Cork 2-13 Dublin 2-12

I ALWAYS say that Hernandez was my first child.

We got him as a pup and he travelled to every Cork training session and match. Hernandez used to be in the car 24/7 with me and kind of became the unofficial Cork senior mascot.

He is named after the Cuban priest’s character that appeared in the Father Ted television series.

The name is what catches people more than anything when they hear it for the first time. People would be looking at me with a strange face when I’d tell them myself and Hernandez are off to training.

I had a long career in both football and camogie, but 2014 is the year that stands out the most in terms of the way we came back to win that All-Ireland final.

A year before, I had made a mistake that could have cost us, so I was delighted to come back 12 months later and win another All-Ireland.

We were a point ahead heading towards the end of the 2013 All-Ireland final against Monaghan when I got the ball. Juliet Murphy roared at me to hold possession.

In my own head, I was like, ‘feck it, get it up the other end of the field and away from the danger zone’. Anyway, I went to kick the ball and it hit off a player.

There was a free given against me. It was in the dying minutes and, next thing, Rena Buckley was forced to bring down one of their players. They won a free a fair bit out from the Cork goal only for Catriona McConnell to miss it. We held on, but I always remember that moment and think, God, it could have gone the other way because of me.

That’s why the 2013 final is another game that stands out. We may not have played very well that particular day but I do think that Monaghan were excellent and really put it up to us. They had a very good team at the time. Niamh Kindlon was brought on and caused wreck. We found it hard to mark her and always questioned why she didn’t start for Monaghan in the final.

The year hadn’t gone hectic for us either so maybe that’s why winning that particular All-Ireland in 2013 has stayed in my head. Those experiences would be important for Cork’s management and players when we ended up facing Dublin at Croke Park in another All-Ireland final 12 months later.

PRIDE OF THE PARISH

I’M from the small parish of Aghinagh and went to Rusheen National School there. I had nine brothers and sisters growing up at home so there was always plenty of craic and plenty of fighting too. Siobhan, Marie, Sean, Denis, Micheál, Catherine, Donal, Jeremiah, myself and Mairead… with mam Kitty, and dad Michael Joe.

I suppose the love of football began with my brother Denis and the local club Aghinagh GAA. He played there himself and always helped out. My brothers were always taken up to the pitch when they were growing up. My mam was involved in the camogie as well and understood the benefits of sport. She dropped every one of us to training and matches.

So, all my brothers and sisters played GAA when they were younger and given the opportunity to play. For me, it began in the garden and the football matches we had between ourselves. They were as hard as any match I ever played because I got thrown around the place and told plenty times to get off the pitch.

Sure, I was too small and only getting in their way, so I was told to go away and get lost. That kicked off another round of fighting, so I could be let play.

Football was something we did. Everyone piled into the car whenever mam was taking a few of us to training. There could be nine or ten of us squashed into the car together… the good old days!

There was no real defining moment for me, it was just a love of football that grew out of playing with my brothers and sisters from a young age. I have my own family now at this stage! My husband Diarmuid Scannell and children Tadgh and Noní, plus Hernandez as well of course.

DEBUT

I made my Cork debut back in 2001. I only got called up to play because they were short numbers. It was a league match against Dublin in Templemore. I was only on the bench to begin with but came on as a substitute.

We were hammered out the gate. It was an all-merciful score. The following year, 2002, was my first, proper full year with the Cork seniors. Charlie McLaughlin was in charge at the time. There was a huge amount of time and effort involved, even back then, to play both football and camogie for Cork.

I was able to manage the two up to 2016. It became too much that year but only because there were a lot of factors involved. I mean, I was farming full-time on top of everything else.

For the Cork dual-players, we just loved playing. That was it. Going out the door to training every evening.... some days, you’d be dreading it alright, as in, Not another training session!!!

As soon as you got into the car and have Hernandez barking away next to you, then you’d immediately be looking forward to it again. I absolutely loved meeting up with the Cork girls and having the craic at training.

Ten-time All-Ireland winners, Deirdre O’Reilly, Briege Corkery, Geraldine O’Flynn, Valerie Mulcahy, Brid Stack, and Rena Buckley after Cork’s win over Dublin in the 2014 football final. Picture: Inpho/Donall Farmer
Ten-time All-Ireland winners, Deirdre O’Reilly, Briege Corkery, Geraldine O’Flynn, Valerie Mulcahy, Brid Stack, and Rena Buckley after Cork’s win over Dublin in the 2014 football final. Picture: Inpho/Donall Farmer

My favourite part was afterwards, once everyone had showered, just sitting around chatting… enjoying the banter. Rena Buckley and myself were always the last two leaving training any night. Sure, we’d be chatting away as if we had never met each other.

That is always what I remember first when I think back on my time with Cork. Not the All-Irelands or all the finals or matches. The dressing-room was it for me and chatting away to all the players, enjoying each other’s company.

It was the same for my club St Val’s. I’d be the last to leave the dressing-room there as well. Sometimes, my sister and my two nieces would sit down at the side of the pitch and stay chatting a good hour after training had ended.

By 2016 though, we were milking close to 600 cows for a farmer. It took its toll. I’d be up at 6:30am every morning… working, training and then coming home afterwards to go back to work again. At the weekends, I could have a club, Cork camogie or Cork football match to go to. Sometimes, I had matches for all three.

I often wonder if I hadn’t been farming, would I have kept going another year or two? I just think everything became overwhelming for me that year. The legs were getting older too and there was a lot of mileage on the clock after 15 years playing inter-county GAA.

In the middle of 2016, I was getting tired and saying that I’d had enough of it. That had never happened to me before.

HAMMERED

We fell behind by 10 points to Dublin with 16 minutes to go in the 2014 All-Ireland final. One of the standout moments of the final was shortly after Lindsay Peat had scored Dublin’s second goal.

I remember saying to myself, Jesus lads but this would be a desperate way to finish up. To be hammered in an All-Ireland final after everything we had been through with Cork was not the way we were going out. No way.

Lindsay’s goal was the final straw. A lot of Cork players got very cross and wanted to do something about it. We knew we had not played well and were guilty of missing loads of chances which was incredibly frustrating.

Dublin were a very good team and able to capitalise. No Cork player had played to their potential for much of that final. Everything was going against us for the first 40 minutes.

It was Angela Walsh and Deirdre O’Reilly who really stepped up when it mattered the most for us that day. Deirdre won a ball at centre-back that she had no business winning. Angela was moved out to midfield and drove the whole thing on. She got on the ball and cleared a path for Rhona Ní Bhuachalla for our goal as well.

I remember Rhona fist-pumping the air… and Cork were back in business.

There was close to five minutes left when another substitute, Eimear Scally scored our second goal, after Róisín Phelan made a brilliant interception. Dublin didn’t seem to know what to do and we just kept coming at them… attack after attack.

Oh my God, it was level and time nearly up, when Geraldine O’Flynn kicked over our winning point. Then, we held on to the ball and just kept possession until it was finally over.

I was in complete shock at the end of that game. It is not like I hadn’t been involved in similar types of comebacks with Cork before. There is something different about All-Ireland final day though.

As soon as Rhona Ní Bhuachalla got the first goal, I looked up at the clock and realised we had plenty of time to keep the scoreboard ticking away and eat into Dublin’s lead.

It was bizarre. We just got on top of Dublin and never relented. What a feeling at the final whistle. It’s only when you talk to people about the final now and walk away, that you realise, wow, how did we actually manage that comeback?

Words can’t really describe it. Whenever I get the chance, I guess it will be something nice to sit down to and watch it all over again.

Cork captain Briege Corkery with her sister Mairead and their niece Bridgín with the Brendan Martin Cup. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cork captain Briege Corkery with her sister Mairead and their niece Bridgín with the Brendan Martin Cup. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

I don’t really care that much about all the medals we won. Obviously, it was lovely to be part of such successful Cork teams, but I’ve no notion where all my medals are.

That’s why I hate talking about how many medals we won, because the nights out and all the craic we had together is what mattered to me. The friendships forged was the most important thing. I’m just glad that we were part of a successful group, that’s all.

Even the days we lost and you’d be giving out about how and why it happened, you’d be incredibly tough on yourself. Reminiscing about it now, God it was just a game and is there any reason to be giving out that much about it?

It is nice to look back and enjoy the memories. We won and lost together.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo WISA

Read all about the monthly winner’s and more.
Click Here

EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more