NEW Cork senior camogie manager Matthew Twomey feels the addition of Davy Fitzgerald to his coaching team is a real statement of intent.
Twomey’s appointment as Cork boss – and successor to Paudie Murray – has been somewhat overshadowed by the decision to sign up former Wexford, Clare and Waterford hurling boss Fitzgerald to the new Cork camogie backroom team.
It’s an eye-catching addition designed to strengthen the Rebels’ bid for glory in 2022, and new boss Twomey is excited by Fitzgerald's appointment.
‘To be fair to Paudie Murray, the management teams he set up, coaches like Kevin Murray, are very hard to replace,’ Twomey explained.
‘That was in my head; if we want to succeed we have to try and match, if not better things, which are very hard to do. Davy Fitzgerald is just a bundle of energy. His experience, his knowledge.
‘There wasn’t too much of a conversation about getting involved. It was very easy for him as he sees Cork’s players as elite players. They are amongst the top teams in their sport.
‘(Former Cork player) Anna Geary played a huge role in getting Davy involved so massive credit is due to her. Davy sees this as an opportunity to do something different. I think it is a huge thing for us, for our players. It has been a breath of fresh air.
‘It is a massive statement for the Camogie Association to have a person of Davy’s calibre willing to get involved with the Cork team. It is a huge statement and I’m hoping things will progress from this, not just for Cork but for the game of camogie itself. Can we push on from this appointment?
‘The players have really taken to him. Our training sessions, so far, have been entertaining. The banter is flying in both directions. It is the first time I’ve seen Ashling Thompson quiet in a long time!’
Twomey has pieced together a jigsaw he hopes will lead Cork to the big prizes this year as the 2021 defeated All-Ireland finalists look to build on an encouraging campaign last time out.
The new Cork boss is also eager to build on the great work carried out by his predecessor Paudie Murray, who held the position for ten years and led the Rebels to four All-Ireland senior titles.
Twomey was an integral member of Murray’s backroom team throughout the latter’s tenure and knows the current senior set-up inside out. Stepping into the managerial role will be challenging but the Douglas clubman is ready to make the step up.
‘It is a massive honour to become Cork senior camogie manager,’ Twomey said.
‘I’ve been involved the last few years and it wasn’t on the radar until I was approached. It is a huge, massive honour for me, for my wife Maria, my kids, my family and my club, Douglas.
‘I started off back in 2014 and know what’s involved. The year gone by (2021) is probably the most positive year I have had with Cork.
‘Everything we have done with this group of Cork senior players, no matter how high you raised the bar, they were and are willing to go further. That’s testament to them. When my name was being mentioned about this job, it was the Cork players who drove my decision, their enthusiasm to right the wrongs of last year. It was an easy decision after speaking to the Cork players.’
First up for Twomey and his Cork senior camogie squad will be the 2022 Littlewoods National Camogie League. Last year, Cork went all the way to the Division 1 semi-finals only to lose out to eventual All-Ireland champions Galway 1-19 to 1-17. So how will the new inter-county manager approach his first competition?
‘We have been speaking a lot about how we will approach the league,’ Twomey admitted.
‘We want to do a bit of both, blooding new players that are on the panel to see where they are at. But, we haven’t won the national league in a while and it is something that is on our radar. It is trying to get the balance between both objectives, that will be key and that is our job.’
This year is going to be hectic for Twomey, but this is a new managerial role he has gotten on merit. There is a lot happening off the pitch but the Douglas man is looking forward to the challenge.
‘Growing up, I aspired to be manager of the Douglas senior hurling team, which I got to,’ Twomey stated.
‘Then I got involved with camogie back in 2014 and it has just taken over. Was it on my radar (to become Cork senior manager)? No, but when the opportunity came about it was fantastic.
‘I do envisage a lot of work but I have a fantastic backroom team around me. We are all going to roll up our sleeves and allocate as much work as we can to share the load. I am very excited about the coming year. It is being out on the pitch trying to improve the players (that I’m looking forward to.) I have big boots to fill but will give it a go anyway.’