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THE LAST WORD: Twomey delivered on his guarantee that Cork would win All-Ireland senior camogie title 

September 21st, 2023 10:54 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

THE LAST WORD: Twomey delivered on his guarantee that Cork would win All-Ireland senior camogie title  Image
Matthew Twomey with the O'Duffy Cup.

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SUNDAY, April 30th – that’s the day Matthew Twomey made the guarantee that Cork were going to win the 2023 All-Ireland senior camogie title.

It was a brave call given the painful afternoon the Cork boss had endured.

His stuttering team, struggling to find their rhythm, had just been knocked out of the Munster championship by Waterford in front of their home crowd at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. 1-18 to 1-15, it was the Déise’s first win against the Rebels since they joined the senior ranks eight years earlier. 

This defeat was the third in a four-match losing streak mid-season that stretched from March 26th to June 3rd, bookended by three losses to bogey team Galway. There were varying degrees of hurt to each, but this shock against Waterford as well as the Division 1 league loss the previous month stung deep. 

The Rebels looked to be on the ropes.

‘The Cork hurlers were playing Waterford after us in Páirc Uí Chaoimh so we had to go upstairs for food. There were a few comments made to us as we walked from one end of the stand to the next. That’s hard to swallow; these people would be saying you’re the best in the world now, but you don’t forget those things either,’ Twomey tells this week’s Star Sport Podcast.

Later that night Mairead Donovan, chairperson of Cork Camogie, rang Douglas man Twomey. 

‘She asked “where are we going?”,’ he recalls.

‘For some reason – and I don’t know why, but I remember it was April 30th – I said I can guarantee we will win the All-Ireland. 

‘I said this could be the making of us.’


There is a thin line between genius and insanity, but the Douglas man had seen enough signs to believe his reeling Rebels would rebound and challenge for the game’s biggest prize: the O’Duffy Cup, not seen on Lee-side since 2018.

They bunkered down, stuck together, blocked the outside noise that was writing Cork’s season off, and got to work. There was a ‘fairly frank’ meeting after the Waterford loss. 

‘We just had a deep look at ourselves,’ he adds, but he had confidence they could turn the corner.

Twomey never stopped believing in this group, but he also knew he was nearing his own end-game with the Cork camogie team. His plan was always to sit in the hot seat for two years only, 2022 and ’23. Twomey’s management team knew this, and the players had that inkling too. Post the Waterford loss, he was into his final months as Cork boss, but how long depended on how far his team progressed in the All-Ireland championship.

‘Staying for two years was always the plan,’ he explains, having confirmed last week that he is not seeking another term in charge.

‘I heard only last week I could have stayed on for a third year, but I didn’t know that. Anyway, the deal was for two years.’

Inter-county management is a demanding gig. It takes over. Twomey estimates it was an extra 35-40 hours of work, and that impacts family life and work. He has been involved with the Cork camogie team since 2014, after then-manager Paudie Murray came calling in November 2013. He wanted the Douglas man on board as a coach.

‘He had me at hello,’ Twomey laughs. ‘It was the Cork senior team and the chance to work with Briege (Corkery), Rena (Buckley), Gemma O’Connor, Anna Geary, the whole lot of them. It was an easy decision.

‘The final this year was special, but 2014 will always be the pinnacle for me; how a gobshite from Douglas ended up on the sideline in Croke Park winning an All-Ireland was unreal,’ he smiles.

Twomey was involved in ‘15 and ’16, took a sabbatical until Paudie Murray roped in him again in 2021, and after Murray stepped back, the search for his successor didn’t take long. Twomey took the job with the knowledge that he was giving this two years. His first season (2022) included defeats in both the Division 1 league and All-Ireland finals. They cut deep, particularly the loss (1-13 to 1-12) to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland. Add in the 2023 league final defeat and the 2021 All-Ireland final loss to Galway (1-15 to 1-12), and an unwanted trend had developed: Cork were coming up short in the big moments of big games. 

Still, Twomey backed his Rebels.

‘Our conversion rate was poor but the chances we were making were off the charts,’ he explains. 

Prophetically, given how the All-Ireland final against Waterford unfolded in August, he adds: ‘We said one of the days someone will take a hammering off us.’

After losing their championship group opener to Galway, Cork finally found their groove. They scored 3-19 against both Down and Clare. In the All-Ireland quarter-final they dethroned All-Ireland champions Kilkenny, 2-14 to 2-13; a huge moment for this team. In the semi-final, an even bigger scalp: they knocked out a Galway team that had proven to be their kryptonite. Not any more. 

That hammering Twomey predicted arrived on Sunday, August 6th, as shell-shocked Waterford were blitzed 5-13 to 0-9 on the biggest day in the camogie calendar. 

‘I think we could have been playing anyone that day. The way we were going into that game after two massive wins, I don’t think anyone could have stopped us that day. I was scarily confident. That whole week I couldn't see us being beaten,’ he says, and they weren’t. The Cork boss knew, as he lifted the O’Duffy Cup in the Hogan Stand, he was bowing out on the highest of notes, with the Rebels back on their perch. Number one, again. The celebrations took over, but Twomey knew what was coming.

Thirty days after masterminding Cork’s All-Ireland glory, he announced his term in charge was over. From a personal view, it was an easy decision. But from a sporting view, it pained him, given the journey he has shared with this group.

‘Someone said it’s like being back when you’re 19 or 20 and breaking up with your girlfriend. It’s not you, it’s me kind of thing,’ he says. 

‘A good few players had a good idea (I was stepping back) before the season finished up so I don’t think it came as a big surprise. Someone said it to me coming down on the train from Dublin on the Monday after the All-Ireland, but I said nothing changes, I had made a decision.

He leaves Cork as All-Ireland champions, with a real depth in strength – look at the subs who came on in the final, Ashling Thompson, Orla Cronin, Orlaith Cahalane, Cliona Healy – and in a position where they can kick on, now they have ended their losing run in big games. 

Twomey’s work is done, but his role in restoring Cork back to the top of the charts needs to be acknowledged and applauded. In this decade, now four seasons old, at senior inter-county level in men’s football and hurling, ladies’ football and camogie, only one All-Ireland has been won – Twomey’s troops this season. He delivered on his guarantee that Cork would win this year’s All-Ireland.

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