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All-Star Orla Cronin has taken her game to the next level

March 15th, 2021 12:45 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Cork star Orla Cronin was named on the 2020 Camogie All-Stars team.

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THERE’S more to come from Camogie All-Star Orla Cronin, insists Cork boss Paudie Murray.

Coming off the back of her best-ever season for the Rebels, the Enniskeane star’s impressive form was recognised when the 2020 Camogie All-Stars team was revealed last Saturday night.

This is the 25-year-old’s first All-Star, and it’s well deserved. What’s more, Paudie Murray feels Cronin will get even better.

‘If you look back at her 2020 campaign she has got to be happy with it. We as a management team were very happy with it. To me, she has taken her game to the next level,’ Murray says.

‘Her All-Star award, I think, is recognition for what she has done over the last number of years.

‘We will keep pushing Orla because I feel there is more in her. She can go up another level this year and she is capable of that.

‘Orla is coming into a period now, from 25 years old to 29, where she can lay down a marker and be up there with the very best of them.’

High praise indeed from the Cork boss, who saw three of his players selected on the 2020 Camogie All-Stars team as Hannah Looney (right half-back) and Chloe Sigerson (midfield) were also picked.

The Rebels’ interest in the 2020 championship was ended at the All-Ireland semi-final stage by Kilkenny last November, and to break back into the top two and dislodge Kilkenny and Galway, Cork will need players like Cronin to lead the charge. She’s capable of that, Murray feels, and he can see her moving her game to the next level, which is an ominous proposition for defences all across the country.

Closer to home, Cronin’s All-Star recognition means West Cork has its newest Camogie All-Star – and the Knockaneady woman is following in very famous footsteps. Barryroe GAA great Jennifer O’Leary is the greatest camogie player West Cork has had and she racked up a stunning eight All-Stars during her inter-county career, her last coming in 2014.

 

The wait for a next local Camogie All-Star is now over, and there’s a knock-on effect too as young girls all across West Cork can see how Cronin, who plays her club camogie with Enniskeane, has risen to become one of the best players in the country, and that will inspire the next generation. Libby Coppinger of St Colum’s is another Cork senior camogie regular, while in this season’s senior county camogie championship, Enniskeane and Newcestown will line up at the start, as will the Carbery divisional team. Camogie is getting stronger all across the region.

‘It’s brilliant to have role models in whatever sport you are in, be it camogie, ladies football or whatever. To have a role medal that you can really relate to and aspire to be like is important,’ former Kilkenny senior camogie star – and current Enniskeane resident – Elaine Aylward notes.

‘If you can look at Orla, see her coming to your local school, that’s a real tangible aspiration for a young girl. They see someone from their own locality put on the Cork jersey and they watch her on TV – and that’s someone that they can really aspire to emulate.’

Aylward was part of the Enniskeane backroom team last season as the club, inspired by Orla Cronin, won the county intermediate camogie championship to also earn promotion to the senior ranks for 2021. Cronin led by example for her club. She was player of the match in the county final win against Aghabullogue and hit 0-13. She scored 1-11 against Ballyhea, 0-10 against Blackrock and 0-7 against Fr O’Neills en route to the final. The Covid pandemic resulted in a defined club window last season, and both Enniskeane and Cronin benefitted.

‘When you look at the Cork team she is a real leader there and she brings that to Enniskeane every day,’ Aylward explains.

‘The girls were lucky enough to have her from the start of last season compared to other years when she was involved with the Cork team and was in and out of training. It’s hard to build team work and team spirit around her when she is not there the whole time, so we were lucky she was there from the get-go. It was great to see all the other players stand up beside her and make it a real team effort.’

The end result was glory for Enniskeane with Cronin pulling the strings, just as she does for Cork, too. And now the Rebels’ influential quarter-back has been honoured with her first Camogie All-Star. And there’s more to come.

The 2020 All-Stars team sponsored by Liberty Insurance is: Áine Slattery (Tipperary); Shauna Healy (Galway), Claire Phelan (Kilkenny), Mary Ryan (Tipperary); Hannah Looney (Cork), Karen Kennedy (Tipperary), Davina Tobin (Kilkenny); Chloe Sigerson (Cork), Grace Walsh (Kilkenny); Niamh Rockett (Waterford), Orla Cronin (Cork), Denise Gaule (Kilkenny); Orlaith McGrath (Galway), Miriam Walsh (Kilkenny), Anne Dalton (Kilkenny).

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