WAS there a bigger plan for Cork manager Matthew Twomey when his GAA playing career was abruptly halted at 19 years of age?
Could he have imagined at the time that that awful episode would lead him into a lifetime of rewarding coaching and an All-Ireland final in Croke Park as manager of the Cork senior camogie team?
How many people get to manage a team in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day?
It’s an honour not to be taken lightly and with Twomey’s likable and unassuming nature, there is no one more aware of that.
In 1993 I developed a lump in my head that had to come out. It obviously was a big operation. I tried to play hurling afterwards, but it was impossible.
“I found it very hard to deal with. The lads in the club pushed me into coaching. I coached in Douglas for 23 years.
“I got involved with people in Douglas who I learned an awful lot from, managers and coaches. Then I got involved in the Douglas camogie side of things with Mick O’Regan. Mick was absolutely brilliant. I suppose I was kind of the ‘bang your chest’ type of coach whereas he was very calculated and astute, and I learned an awful lot from him.”
He’s indebted to Douglas for where he finds himself this weekend, preparing to face Kilkenny at Croke Park.
“My dad was chairman there for 30 years so myself and my brother hadn’t much option but to be down there! I love the place. I feel, I don’t know, kind of guilty or something that I should enjoy days like this in Croke Park when people who gave their life and soul to the GAA as much if not more than I did never get to experience the day of an All-Ireland final.”
He came in as coach to the camogie team in 2014, had to step away the following year but was back again in 2016.
“In 2016 I was back in full- time. I then took a total GAA sabbatical for the first time for about three years and didn’t miss it massively at the time.
“Then an opportunity came in 2021 again. The role Paudie Murray offered me in ‘player management’ suited me down to the ground.”
Having three surgeries took a toll, but it isn’t something he wants to dwell on.
“They’re my problems. Everyone else has their problems. I’m able to deal with them.”
After Murray left, he was approached to take the main role, with his partner Maria urging him to take the opportunity.
Since I got involved with Cork camogie, I’ve loved it. The girls are fantastic. I’m stone mad about them. I’m not there for the ego side of things.”
And of course, he got Davy Fitzgerald on board with him.
“Yeah, Anna Geary set us up. I met him for a couple of hours. I knew I had him even though it took him about a month to accept.
“He was vital but I think the people that were vital to me were Teddy O’Donovan, Anthony O’Neill, and Niall Collins, from last year’s management to stay on as I needed that continuity and support. We all get on well. It’s important we have a craic.
“They’re super at that as well as all those that joined us this year, we’ve about five or six coaches. Davy leads it all. He came down with James Hickey as well who’s absolutely excellent.
“We’re at the pinnacle now. We’ve a great opportunity and we hope we’ll get a great following up there.”