FOR me, there are two matches that stand out as really special – one club and one county – and they are both similar in terms of marking real progress against a rival side that been hard to get past.
From 1997-2000 inclusive, Donoughmore won the Cork ladies’ SFC but each time we lost to Ballymacarbry of Waterford in the Munster championship.
It was a tough learning curve, but there was some progress. In 2000, we had played them in Ballincollig, we were up a point at half-time and they absolutely annihilated us in the second half but it was the first time we got a sense that we could beat them.
At that time, they had 12 or 13 players on the Waterford team and they were incredible. Michael Ryan was coaching them and they were very well-organised, not far off an inter-county team.
In 2001, we did five in a row in Cork and made it through to play Ballymac again. The match was on in Ardfinnan, it was a foggy morning and we had this thing about arriving in convoy.
We had a few young players coming through, like Edel O’Sullivan, and Lynn Dunlea had joined us as well, she combined well with Ruth Ann Buckley and Aisling O’Connor in attack, so we had quite a good forward line and then Hanora Kelleher out the field.
I think the experience of playing Ballymac that many times, and knowing we were becoming more competitive and less overawed, really stood to us and we finally got over the line to win by 2-7 to 1-8. From there, we went on to win the All-Ireland club championship against Ballyboden St Enda’s of Dublin.
I think that when you win the county for the first time and you go on to Munster, you probably don’t have that same expectation. You’ve been celebrating for two or three days and the first provincial championship game usually comes very soon – if it’s not the next Sunday, it’s the Sunday after.
You have to become accustomed to dealing with that and you become a bit more savvy and less fearful. The small things make a big difference in those games – that year that we beat Ballymac, Edel O’Sullivan was outstanding in defence.
A few years later, it was somewhat of a similar situation with Cork. In 2004, we had won Munster for the first time but then lost to Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
It was a bit of a calamity of events leading up to it – the bus broke down on the way and things like that. I remember talking to Eamonn Ryan as we came off the field that day and just being so disappointed that we didn’t get the win.
In 2005, we won Munster again and made it through to meet Mayo in the semi-final in Portlaoise.
With Donoughmore, we would have played Carnacon quite a bit and so we were familiar with players like Cora, Claire Egan and Fiona McHale. There was a lot of rivalry with them but Mayo had four All-Irelands whereas we had yet to win one.
Similar to with Donoughmore, we felt we were ready to push on and that day we stayed with them all through. We were just after scoring a point to go ahead and the clock was ticking down – Cora Staunton got the ball out around the 45 and Ciara Walsh tracked her all the way. Eamonn used to always talk about getting the near hand in and she kind of corralled her into the corner and made sure she couldn’t equalise. All of the small moments like that added up.
We were just ecstatic – it was nearly as good as winning an All-Ireland to us at that stage. Beating them meant that we knew that nobody else could hold any fears for us and, even though we were playing the defending champions Galway in the All-Ireland final, we weren’t overawed and went on to beat them too.
In primary school
Basketball and road-bowling
A combination of people really: My family, friends, teammates and coaches
Sonia O'Sullivan & Michael Jordan
I don't think so
Donoughmore winning the 1998 Muskerry JAFC against Clondrohid
Losing the club All-Ireland to Ballyboden by a point in 2004
Mary O'Donnell (Waterford)
Unity, resilience, expression and enjoyment
Be patient with yourself try not to be overly critical of any one performance. Keep trying to improve your skill level. Have fun
Irish and American folk/traditional music, John Smith, Joni Mitchell, Indigo Girl, Bruce - the list goes on!
Flourishing by Maureen Gaffney
Sinéad Quinlan, Irish comedian
Dacent Munch in Mayfield - yum!
To achieve some respectable level of flexibility and strength