IT’S fitting that as Na Piarsaigh celebrate their 50th year affiliated to the Camogie Association, for the first time in their history they have a player leading Cork out to a senior camogie final in Croke Park.
Catherine Martin, who is synonymous with Na Piarsaigh Camogie Club and who was until this year chairperson for 25 years and now holds the position of treasurer, said that the entire club, GAA and camogie alike, are absolutely over the moon for Amy Lee.
“We’ve had great players represent our club over the years, players like Paula Goggins, Irene O’Leary, Jean Paula Kent but if Amy lifts the cup on Sunday, she’ll be the first Na Piarsaigh person to lift the O’Duffy Cup. She is an absolute amazing ambassador for the club.
“All the kids know her from the U6 busy bees, boy or girl, every child in the club knows Amy. No matter what’s on in the club she’s there, you don’t even have to ask her. We took two buses up to the league final and Amy’s mother Angie came down that morning to go on the bus with two big bags of sweets that Amy sent down for all the kids on their bus trip.
“Amy has always been like this, it’s not just because she’s captain. She’s always there.”
The added bonus for Na Piarsaigh is that Trevor Coleman is manager of the Cork intermediate side and Trevor Allen, Catherine’s husband, is an intermediate selector, making tomorrow a massive day for the club. Both men are also involved in underage hurling with Na Piarsaigh and widely known.
“I think it shows that they’re just great GAA people,” said Catherine. “All in all, it’s great for our club and great for the northside. With Amy O’Connor captain in 2020 and now Amy Lee, it’s brilliant for us.”
What’s great I feel is that young boys see their coaches managing and coaching women’s teams and I’m sure there’ll be as many boys as girls jumping into the buses to head to Dublin tomorrow and support them.
Spare a thought for Finola Neville. She’s captain of the intermediate side but suffered a cruciate injury in their first championship game with Wexford. She never complained. It wasn’t about Finola but the collective, and she has remained by her team’s side.
At every training session and game, she has been a positive and calming influence. The St Catherine’s player wears her heart on her sleeve on the pitch and will do so again tomorrow from the sideline.
What a brilliant U16A All Ireland final win last Sunday. And what a terrific crowd in Mallow for the occasion. The stand was full to capacity with standing space around it also full.
I really enjoyed the game and I think the main reason for that was that it was 15-on-15. The good old days when you went out and won your position.
Ava Fitzgerald was also my Player of the Match. But it was an excellent team performance where Cork dominated after the first 15 minutes. Amy McCarthy, Grainne Finn, Amy Sheppard, Rachel Roche just some from a top-class display.
Tomorrow is a special day. We have two teams in Croke Park as we look to complete a clean sweep of All Ireland titles and we have the 1995 and 1997 jubilee teams being honoured at a lunch in the stadium and introduced to the crowd at half time in the senior game.
A ‘quiet’ reunion is taking place Saturday night with 1997 member Sinead O’Callaghan flying in from New York. The 1995 team had to wait two years for their day due to Covid in 2020 but there isn’t too much of a difference between both panels and it’s worked out great.
1995 of course was our big win over Kilkenny where Cork hadn’t beaten them in a final since 1972; six points down midway through the second half, we won by four; 4-8 to 2-10. 1997 we regained our crown against Galway having lost it in 1996 to the same county; 0-15 to 2-5.
There were some great players on those teams, players that people still reminisce about today. I won’t start naming as I could name them all. Those were the days when you again won your patch, and these girls unquestionably did that.
Tom Nott was manager, a great manager, for both years and he will also join us on the day.