Paudie Palmer: Cork camogie teams can complete a special season at Croke Park

Victory in the two finals this Sunday would complete a clean sweep for the Rebels to go with the U16 and minor titles
Paudie Palmer: Cork camogie teams can complete a special season at Croke Park

Cella and Cork senior camogie player Saoirse McCarthy, Ballinspittle, out for a walk on their local Garrylucas beach. Picture: Denis Minihane.

WITH the Croker series almost at an end, it is now the responsibility of our club personnel to guide us home to Christmas.

All those inter-county players that some pundits mentioned you wouldn’t see again in action until next January will also be part of the club campaign!

But there is one more day in the big house to come and it will have a serious red entry.

Next Sunday’s camogie finals will feature Cork’s intermediate and senior teams; the intermediates face Galway at 2pm and the seniors will be bidding to win their first since 2018 when they take on Kilkenny at 4.15pm.

However, there is also a Cork angle to the premier junior final which throws in at 12pm between Antrim and Armagh. Lining out for Armagh will be Jennifer Curry, formerly Jennifer O’Leary from Barryroe. Arguably one of the best ever to come from the west, Jennifer won four senior medals with Cork, her last game with the county was in 2014; she also received an incredible eight All-Stars.

After a lapse of eight years, she donned the inter-county attire again and in the semi-final against Cavan, her contribution of 1-3 was key in enabling her adopted county reach the final. It probably should be mentioned though, that Antrim will be favourites.

Nonetheless, it is some achievement for the now 38 years young forward to be back on the big stage.

Can, we hope for a Rebel double?

Well, it would be some achievement and would crown a marvellous year for camogie in the county. Last Sunday, the U16 team won the All-Ireland with by recording a comprehensive 2-18 to 0-10 victory over Tipperary.

Cork and Tipperary players trying to win the ball in the Tesco All-Ireland U16 A Camogie Championship final at Mallow. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Cork and Tipperary players trying to win the ball in the Tesco All-Ireland U16 A Camogie Championship final at Mallow. Picture: Denis Minihane.

In late March, the county minors defeated Galway 2-11 to 2-7 to land that All-Ireland.

So, what are their chances on Sunday?

The intermediate one is always a difficult call because it includes a number of second teams together with the best of the so-called weaker counties. Both Cork and Galway had impressive semi-final wins over two counties that would be considered strong contenders, Meath and Derry.

For what it is worth, the Trevor Coleman-managed side have been together for a while, hence they get the nod.

As regards the senior decider, it must be mentioned that with only three top teams in the country at the moment — Cork, Galway, and Kilkenny — any outcome, other than a Cork victory would be viewed as a bad day at the office.

A four-year camogie drought in Cork compares very favourably with an eight-year football thirst in Kerry.

That is probably where the comparison ends because, whereas Kerry were deserving favourites going into their decider, this Rebel side will parade behind the underdog banner.

On how many occasions have we made the error of basing our final predictions on semi-final performance and I suppose, now is too late to change a habit of a lifetime!

SHOCK

Most who attended the Waterford win were of the opinion that were it not for Ashling Thompson coming on in the first half, a major shock was on the cards. Then again, maybe the uncertainty surrounding the Milford star had an unsettling effect on the team.

Whatever about that, the episode did not reflect well on the camogie association, particularly when it emerged that the Cork star got off on a technicality, not sure for exactly what, but mention was made that she may have been reported or charged under the incorrect rule. Going into last year’s final, there was another disciplinary issue in relation to Orla Cronin which, in the view of many, was not conducive to proper preparation.

The fact that the Enniskeane player is not involved this year is a considerable blow. Thankfully now, with no distractions, Cork will arrive on the big stage in the proper frame of mind and leave their best wine to the last.

Amy O’Connor, the St Vincent’s player, is a serious attacker but Chloe Sigerson, Killeagh, and Katrina Mackey, Douglas, know a thing or two about the location of the posts in the big field.

All year the half-back line have been impressive. Now that Laura Tracey, Killeagh, is fully fit again, the hope would be that they can be even more impressive.

Laura Hayes, St Catherine’s, and the youthful Saoirse McCarthy (Courcey Rovers) are all influential operators in this area, the latter the MVP in the semi.

Earlier we mentioned the best westerner of another era, of probably of any era, but in the game against Waterford it was Libby Coppinger from St Colum’s club in Kealkil who fought a massive rearguard action when the Déise were going for the jugular.

Another favourable aspect of team preparation is the absence of the challenges posed by dual players.

Ever since the footballers’ surprise defeat to Mayo, Coppinger, Maebh Cahalane, St Finbarr’s, and Killeagh’s Hannah Looney have been able to concentrate on the liathroid beag.

Hannah Looney drives at Keeley Corbett-Barry during the Glen Dimplex Senior Camogie All-Ireland semi-final win over Waterford at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Hannah Looney drives at Keeley Corbett-Barry during the Glen Dimplex Senior Camogie All-Ireland semi-final win over Waterford at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

For all Cork camogie clubs, Sunday is an important day and even more so for clubs who have players involved, but for Courcey Rovers it will be even more special. Ashling Moloney and Grainne Hannon will be involved with the intermediates while Saoirse McCarthy and Fiona Keating are vital played for the seniors.

Wouldn’t it be just the perfect ending to have the O’Duffy and the Jack McGrath Cups as special guests in the community hall in Ballinspittle some night next week?

I am sure the statue could be convinced to move one more time...

Contact: paudie.palmer@hotmail.com Twitter: @paudiep

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