Following a decade of glory at the helm of the Cork senior camogie team, Dunmanway-man Paudie Murray has gone in search of a new challenge.
At the time of writing, the four-time All-Ireland winning manager’s next move has yet to be confirmed but he looks set to be named the county’s new minor hurling manager in the coming days.
Having been involved with the Rebel Óg U16 boys for the past two years, Murray seems a perfect fit for the vacant minor role. Is a fresh start, albeit in a different if equally challenging position, something that Murray is relishing?
‘This is obviously an area I am interested in getting into,’ Murray informed The Southern Star.
‘I have been working with the U16 (boys) this year. Look, you’d probably like to have things done differently but Covid was a major problem this and last year.
‘Would I like to go forward with them again? Absolutely but that is not my decision. It is a decision for the Cork County Board. I have got to respect that. The only thing I can say is that, if appointed, I will give it everything.
‘Was my time up with Cork camogie? It probably was. I always felt that a fresh voice was important. I’m very conscious that the next person coming in needs to make the standards even higher. Getting that person in there is going to be a major decision.
‘I have a connection there (with Cork camogie). I am ten years there and probably a lot of these players have grown up with me so I have major loyalties there still.’ Paudie Murray makes a fair point as the demands and spotlight on modern day camogie, ladies football and GAA inter-county managers have never been more intense.
‘I think it was easier (being a camogie manager) back along,’ Murray said.
‘My work is in the mortgage business. Back in 2012, we were going through a currency crisis and recession. The business was quiet compared to this year which has been extremely busy.
‘I still think that my energy levels probably weren’t what they were two years ago. Trying to juggle work and giving it your all to Cork camogie outside of that, there is no doubt that there were weeks I had very little sleep.’
Irrespective of what happens next, Murray’s decision to step away from the Cork senior camogie panel he had developed such a strong bond with was not an easy one.
Interestingly, he says his mind was made up at the beginning rather than at the end of 2021.
‘As I said, I’ve been involved with the Rebel Óg U16 (boys) hurling setup for the past two years. U15 last year, U16 this year and hoping to go further with them. If that was to be the case then this was going to be my last year with the Cork senior camogie team. So, look, my mind was made up fairly early.
‘I think we have left things in a very healthy state. It is a very young team, extremely young, if you judge it against the top two, Galway and Kilkenny. Cork is, on average, five years younger per player.
‘I think there is a great culture within that setup now. I know for a fact that the players are looking to go back training straight away. Obviously, it is very important that whatever person comes in builds on that and what we have done. That is key from that side of things.’
Murray and his backroom team came within a whisker of winning the 2021 All-Ireland camogie final only to come up short to a more experienced Galway in the decider.
‘The All-Ireland final loss has been difficult, there is no question about it and our management team is very hurt over it.
‘We were very close. Had we pulled it off I think it would have been, probably, our greatest victory. I don’t think people from outside understand the difference in age between our Cork team versus Galway that day. The difference that makes on the pitch, physically, is that we were second best. Look, there is an age difference there and that is going to happen.
‘When we look back, our conversion rate was under 50%, there’s was over 70% and there lies the problem. We created opportunities and just didn’t execute. That’s hard to take.’
There is little doubt that Paudie Murray will be sorely missed within the Cork camogie community. The four-time All-Ireland winner helped raise the profile of the sport on a national level during his managerial tenure which began back in 2012.
Murray is leaving Cork camogie in a better state than he found it. So, what is his opinion of an evolving sport, both on and off the pitch, in 2021?
‘The huge number of people that have stopped me in the street or texted me following this year’s All-Ireland final would indicate the game has changed dramatically and for the better,’ Murray said.
‘Camogie has now become a really exciting game and probably a better watch than a lot of the hurling games. It can improve even more.
‘The Camogie Association needs a major shakeup. Probably a better calibre of people needs to get in there. I have said it a number of times, I think camogie needs to come under the GAA’s umbrella. The sooner that happens, the better the game will grow. Until that happens, I think that things (change) will be slow.’