AS they prepare to get their All-Ireland senior championship campaign underway this weekend, Cork camogie captain Amy Lee has said the Leesiders are attempting to build a level of squad depth to rival that of reigning O’Duffy Cup champions Galway.
Following their final defeat to the same opposition in last year’s competition, Cork looked set to gain revenge on the Tribeswomen when leading them by six points early in the second half of their National League showpiece meeting at Croke Park on April 9.
However, Galway’s bench power proved decisive on a chilly evening at GAA HQ with substitutes Carrie Dolan, Catherine Finnerty and Sabina Rabbitte registering a combined scoring tally of 2-5.
While Cork didn’t get the same impact from their reserves on that occasion, the rotation policy of team manager Matthew Twomey is seeing some new faces emerging from the pack.
“Obviously Galway made a few subs and it really shows their bench is massive.
Their squad depth is unbelievable. We’re trying to build the same thing in Cork now.
“We want our bench to be as strong as the 15 players starting,” Lee explained at last week’s championship launch in the Croke Park Hotel. “I think we kind of have it this year. A lot of competition for places.
“I don’t think we’ve had the same 15 start for the last four or five games, which is great to see. It’s great to get girls experience.”
After digging deep to defeat Clare after extra-time in last weekend’s Munster championship final, Cork will kick-start their All-Ireland Group One odyssey away to Wexford on Saturday.
This opener precedes a rematch with the Banner county, as well as subsequent encounters with Dublin, Waterford and Tipperary, but Lee’s focus for now is firmly on the Slaneysiders.
“The last few years they probably haven’t been where they wanted to be at. But I think this year, after winning the Division 2 league, they have a lot to fight for.
“They’ll want to stamp their place in this championship. A big game for us and for them. We won’t be taking anything for granted in that game. They look like they could cause trouble this year.”
A senior debutant back in 2015, Lee spent her first five years on the county panel as understudy to the legendary Aoife Murray. Fast forward to 2022 and she now finds herself taking on a role that was previously filled by the All-Star keeper.
Since an opening round league clash with Clare on February 20, Lee has been leading out Cork as captain and will do so again throughout the All-Ireland series. As tremendous an achievement as this is for the Na Piarsaigh netminder, she insists it doesn’t put her on a higher pedestal than her teammates.
“I don’t think about it much. I think we have leaders all over our pitch. Obviously, it’s a great honour, but I don’t think it will be a big deal inside the squad because we have so many leaders and so many people to stand up.
“If I wanted to keep a low profile, there’s plenty of girls that will stand up.”
It is a subject that she has been asked about at length already this year, but there is no denying the presence of Davy Fitzgerald on Cork’s management team in 2022 is capturing the attention of the camogie world at large.
The Clare man’s unrelenting desire for success has served him well as both a player and coach in the past and Lee is delighted he is on board for what promises to be a hectic championship.
He has a winning mentality and it’s great to have that in the team. We’ve gone out to play challenge matches and he doesn’t want to lose.
“It’s great to have that mentality and Matthew [Twomey] has brought in a few lads as well with him.
“I think the whole outfit we have now at the moment is really good and it’s going very well for us,” Lee added.