BY DENIS HURLEY
ALL-IRELAND senior camogie champions Cork get their national league campaign underway on Sunday as they host Galway at Castle Road (2pm), with manager Paudie Murray admitting that the early start may count against his side.
Whereas the 2017 league began on February 18th, teams are in action five weeks sooner this time round. With Cork having only recently re-assembled, Murray says he’s ‘not expecting a lot’, but doesn’t intend to use that as an excuse.
‘We’ve only a few days’ work done,’ he says.
‘The Galway game is coming a bit early but we’ll get that out of the way and then work away. I didn’t want to do anything before Christmas as there was no point in flogging the girls, we came back four weeks early for 2017 but there was a strong appetite there after how 2016 had gone, you can’t go full tilt all the time.
‘I fear that the early start is badly thought out. We’re lucky that we have our own pitch but how many counties don’t have their own grounds?
‘I don’t think that too many clubs would be giving out their main pitch at this time of year if the conditions are bad.’
Murray says that there have been no retirements since last year and he doesn’t expect or foresee any others.
The new captain, his sister Aoife, is injured, as is Gemma O’Connor, while Rena Buckley and Eimear O’Sullivan are not back in training yet while Katrina Mackey will miss the national league as she is studying in Germany.
The captaincy isn’t a case of nepotism at play, either – goalkeeper Aoife was nominated by the county champions Inniscarra.
The Mid-Cork club retained the title they had won in 2016, when they nominated their star player Buckley.
She felt unable to give the commitment to the role again. – ‘Rena would only do something like that if she could do it fully,’ Murray says, ‘she wouldn’t just be in it for the honour and the glory.’ – and with no other guaranteed starter, they went for another Muskerry native in the Cloughduv netminder.
The manager certainly has no reservations about the quality of the choice.
‘You look at it objectively,’ he says, ‘she has been there for 16 years and has won eight All-Irelands, and for the last 13 years she has been driving down from Dublin for training and matches.
‘She has served her apprenticeship well and I think that the decision has been well received.’
A leader by example, who’s not afraid to let her team-mates know if standards need to be upped?
‘No better woman,’ her brother agrees, ‘and you can include me in that too, she won’t hold back there! It’ll be an interesting year, certainly.’