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Collective effort earned Cork All-Ireland camogie senior final success

August 21st, 2023 9:00 AM

By Ger McCarthy

Collective effort earned Cork All-Ireland camogie senior final success Image
Cork players celebrate with the O’Duffy Cup. (Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane)

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The Cork Camogie senior team’s 2023 success came off the back of two heart-breaking final defeats.


A WEEK on from hearing that final whistle and the ending two years of hurt must have felt glorious.

Cork Camogie senior manager Matthew Twomey and his players are still basking in the glow of bringing the O’Duffy Cup back to leeside for the first time in five years.

Having suffered defeats to Galway and Kilkenny in the two previous year’s finals, the Rebels blew Waterford away to become senior All-Ireland champions once again.

A simple and obvious question to begin, has the enormity of Cork’s achievement sunk in?

‘No, a week on, I don’t think it has fully sunk in yet,’ the Cork Camogie senior manager said.

‘The celebrations finished up for me on the Tuesday (after the final). I realised my age on Tuesday afternoon and that was it.

‘Things have been hectic since the All-Ireland final. Spending the last few days at home with my family has given me the chance to catch up on all the text messages and that side of things.

‘The goodwill towards the team from all around Cork has been unbelievable. I’ve never come across the likes of it.

‘As for the achievement? I’ve only watched the game back once so things are still all a bit surreal at the moment.’


Cork manager Matthew Twomey. (Photo: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)

Naturally, Cork’s players would have had the memories of those two previous All-Ireland defeats somewhere in the back of their minds ahead of throw-in.

So, delivering correctly-toned instructions before the team headed out onto the pitch was going to be critical ahead of a third consecutive final appearance.

Turns out, Matthew Twomey and his backroom team decided to get everyone together before arriving in Dublin to get their message across.

‘We went to the Rochestown Park Hotel on the Friday evening before heading to Croke Park,’ Matthew Twomey said.

‘I was conscious of having finished up training on Thursday night that we should spend a bit of time together before Sunday came around.

‘We set up a meeting where our performance coach Michelle O’Connor, myself and a few others spoke to the players.

‘I admit I tapped into that (the two All-Ireland final defeats) and referenced how it was like climbing a mountain. That’s what we kept referencing.

‘All the times we slipped back down but got back up. There was also a slideshow of our National League and All-Ireland final defeats.

‘We just said, there was now an opportunity to go one way or the other.

‘So the last message before sending the players out on the field against Waterford was straightforward enough. ‘Please play to your potential and don’t have any regrets coming off the field. The narrative was, if that’s not good enough then it is going to take an exceptional team to beat us.’


Courcey Rover's Fiona Keating scores Cork's fifth goal.
(Photo: INPHO/Ben Brady)

Turns out that Cork were the exceptional team on All-Ireland final day. Building a 1-9 to 0-3 interval lead, Waterford had no answer to an Amy O’Connor three-goal blast immediately after the restart.

‘All season, we have put a big emphasis on the third quarter of our games,’ Twomey said.

‘Obviously, management has our say inside the dressing room but the players drive things on as well.

‘One of the players kept saying let’s win the second half, let’s win the second half during the half time break. Cork are nine points up but that’s the message the players were shouting.

‘We have our goals for each quarter but achieved way more than we set out to in the All-Ireland final and the game was over.’


The quality and depth of the Cork senior panel is what delivered All-Ireland success in 2023.

Yet, as much as the Cork manager doesn’t like singling out individuals, it is impossible not to acknowledge Amy O’Connor’s match-winning contribution.

The Cork captain and Player of the Match couldn’t have stamped her authority on proceedings any better with a hat-trick inside three minutes on the biggest stage of them all.

What were the Cork manager’s thoughts, sitting on the side-line at Croke Park, as O’Connor wrote her name into the history books?

‘It is very hard to put into words what Amy’s importance is to the Cork senior panel,’ Twomey admitted.

‘Amy joined the panel in 2014 and there has been pressure on her since day one.

‘There’s pressure on her every time she steps out on the pitch. Herself and Katrina (Mackey) are always heavily marked players.

‘Last year, Amy scored something like five points, all from frees, in the final against Kilkenny. I heard of question marks being said about her but I never listen to any of that.

‘The work Amy does in training is immense and she is constantly trying to better herself.

‘She was under pressure again as captain this year but to end up scoring 3-7 in an All-Ireland final is incredible, absolutely unbelievable.

‘We have different types of captains. The likes of Ashling Thompson, Hannah Looney and Laura Treacy are all leaders who motivate and speak well. Amy doesn’t say much but when she does, her words really stick.

‘She leads by example in everything she does. Often during the year, she would have come to me and had a quiet word rather than shouting or making drama about it inside the dressing room.

‘We took her off five minutes into the second half during our first game against Galway earlier this year. Things weren’t going well for her. The following Tuesday, Amy approached us, in a professional manner, and asked what am I doing wrong? Where can I improve? It ended up being a simple conversation between herself, myself and Liam Cronin.

‘From there, she put her head down and, game after game, improved unbelievably. That’s why everyone was so happy for Amy to put in the performance that she did on All-Ireland final day.’


At the time of writing, the Cork Camogie senior panel are enjoying their success ahead of preparing for the upcoming club county championships.

Matthew Twomey is also enjoying a well-earned break and embarking on a family holiday.

So any talk of what happens next with the Cork Camogie senior setup must remain on the backburner, for the time being at least.

‘No, nothing has come up about my position or anything else just yet,’ the All-Ireland winning manager stated.

‘I got a two-year term and that two-year term is up now. Look, I haven’t talked to anyone about it since the All-Ireland final.

‘That’s because the focus going into it was all about trying to regain the O’Duffy Cup. The (Cork) players are heading back to their clubs and I’m off on holidays so that’s my first port of call for now.’

Finishing on a positive note with the county’s All-Ireland winning manager is appropriate considering the huge effort put in over the past year.

Matthew Twomey is the first to admit that it took a collective effort along with plenty of goodwill for Cork to be successful.

‘Well in terms of goodwill, two of the greatest players to ever play the game of Camogie (I don’t want to mention any names) were on to me last week and wishing us well,’ Twomey concluded.

‘Cork senior hurling manager Pat Ryan contacted me and plenty more as well.

‘County boards are constantly criticised but our county board have been unbelievable to us. They gave us more than what we wanted in the leadup to the final.’

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