YEARS fly by so fast. It doesn’t seem like 12 months ago since Galway edged Cork out in an exciting All-Ireland. The heads were down and sadness prevailed but Cork have risen again and Croke Park is calling again on Sunday.
It’s always a great occasion. Busloads of underage camogie players will be gathering in club car parks from early Sunday morning to head to Dublin. Others will make the trip bytrain and car and Cork will have a big following when they run out on the pitch at 2pm for the intermediate game, with the senior showdown with Kilkenny at 4.15pm.
All-Ireland camogie final day is unique, a day that gives families a chance to get to and savour the Croke Park atmosphere without the hassle of grappling for tickets as would be the case for a hurling final.
Nothing beats having Cork in an All-Ireland camogie final, the buzz is unbelievable.
I started out as a youngster making the trip to Dublin on the train and that ritual is as important as ever for the next generation.
Year in year, out we made the journey. Sometimes the titles came our way and sometimes titles went astray. The love of camogie and Cork and that annual pilgrimage never wavered.
Kilkenny took centre-stage for a while and were dominant before Cork returned to the top, then for a few years a new force emerged as Tipperary burst on the scene when Cork were beaten by a late Kilkenny goal in the 1999 semi-final and proceeded to dominate, annexing five titles in six years.
Cork bounced back and regained control but failed to make it three in a row as Wexford seized their chance. Kilkenny were on top at underage level, with four U16 and three minor All-Ireland titles in a row, but Wexford remained the team to beat at senior.
Galway took a title in between in 2013, Cork were revived and pulled off back-to-back wins in 2014 and 2015 but lost the three-in-a-row bid to the Cats. In 2017 and 2018 Cork grabbed dramatic late winners before Kilkenny ended their hurt in 2019 against Galway and the roles were reversed the following season.
Last year Cork were disappointed to fade to a late Galway rally.
For the legions of fans heading to Dublin this weekend the aim is a clean sweep, to add the two adult titles to the minor and U16 crowns safely tucked away already.
A whole new generation of youngsters will experience the magic of Croke Park from the stands and dream of maybe someday making it to Croke Park themselves.
Cork has no shortage of camogie heroines and huge history; on Sunday, a lot of new faces will make their Croke Park debut proudly wearing the Red and White of their beloved Cork.
Best of luck to the two teams as they bid to bring home the titles. Rebels abú!