SPEND a little time in the company of Cork, MTU and Courcey Rovers camogie star Saoirse McCarthy and one thing becomes very obvious.
She is passionate about her chosen sport and is driven to improve as a player and also in her pursuit of an All-Ireland senior championship medal.
She does have one to her name, but that was as a sub so whilst Saoirse is very proud of it, she wants to win one as a starter. That desire drives her on game after game, training session after training session.
What she doesn’t tend to mention in her modest way is the fact she won two All-Ireland medals on the day she won the senior title.
Saoirse was also part of the Cork intermediate team that made it a double in 2018 for Cork and celebrations had to be put on hold for a quick jersey change to take her place with the senior squad for the senior tie.
Now at just 22 Saoirse is well established in the senior side and will be one of the players that manager Matthew Twomey will be looking to in the upcoming Munster and All-Ireland championships.
But it’s not for her exploits with Cork that Saoirse was picked as a monthly winner ofWomen in Sport awards. It was for her success with MTU (Munster Technological University) as she captained them to All-Ireland success in the Purcell Cup recently.
She was also named Player of the Game in the final, as she led by example from start to finish.
The college beat University of Galway in the final, which Saoirse said was the culmination of four years of hard work. The final score was 2-10 to 0-12, with Saoirse raising four white flags, ensuring she got to lift the cup at the end of play.
Winning with your college is a special according to Saoirse and she was honoured to have captained the side to glory.
“There is something special about winning an All-Ireland title with whatever college you are studying at,” said Saoirse, “every year you aren’t sure of what players will be available, with some leaving and others arriving. Even at the start of the year getting organised for training sessions takes a bit of time, with players involved in other competitions at that stage.
“But it’s the same for every college and in a lot of ways that’s what makes it more exciting. You don’t know what players they have until you meet them in the competition a lot and really, it’s all about on the day.
“Of course, there has been a lot of hard work going on at MTU (formerly Cork Institute of Technology) and for me this is the culmination of four years of that.
“Some of the players have been involved with me over those four years and others have joined during that time, including this year.
While it didn’t sway where Saoirse went to college a picture of her fellow Courcey Rovers player, Jacinta Crowley, had a lasting effect on her.
“At the open day I saw a brochure and on the front was a picture of Jacinta lifting the cup in 2016 and I thought to myself that if I go to college here, I want to do that.
“I want to lift that cup and it was just a really special moment to do so and one I won’t ever forget."
Having gone through the group stages of the cup undefeated they headed to Dublin for the semi-final on a Saturday and the final 24 hours later.
In the semi-final, they got the better of Trinity and it was a case of back to where it all started in the final.
University of Galway was one of the first games they played earlier in the season, and they were aware of the ‘beat teams twice in the one season’ scenario.
“They were missing a few players that day and so were we and I think both sides were aware of this, especially after the semi-finals.
“Looking back now I was probably the most nervous I have ever been for games going into that weekend.
“But once the ball is thrown in you forget about it and just get on with it and thankfully, we came out on top after two tough games and it was an honour to lift the cup on behalf of the team."
Saoirse was part of the Cork side that fell just short to Galway in the Very National League final last Sunday.
Now her concentration will be on the upcoming Munster championship, followed by the All-Ireland series as Cork bid to win the O’Duffy Cup for the first time since 2018.