IN mid-September Libby Coppinger was the form footballer in Cork ladies football.
She was outstanding for West Cork all through the county senior championship and saved her best performance for the final. Against Mourneabbey Coppinger, playing full forward, scored 2-3. She was the standout player in West Cork’s famous win.
‘Because I had such a good summer I was itching to get back in with Cork and show what I can do and continue that form,’ Coppinger explains.
Then the dual star got injured.
‘It was in a camogie challenge match against Waterford and I went over on my ankle. That set me back,’ she admits.
The St Colum’s woman rushed back and came on as a 60th-minute sub in Cork’s All-Ireland camogie championship group win against Wexford on October 31st.
Then, in an A v B training game, she rolled her right ankle again.
‘I probably tried to get myself back too fast because it’s such a short season,’ she says.
She missed Cork footballers’ opening championship match against Kerry the following Saturday and Cork camogie’s away tie in Galway the following day. Coppinger was back in action for the Cork camogie team on October 14th in the win against Clare and was an unused sub for the footballers against Cavan the next day.
‘Just before the camogie game against Clare it came right, but it was still a bit tender with football because it’s my kicking foot, so it was that bit harder to get right,’ she explains.
So while she started in Cork’s All-Ireland camogie championship semi-final loss to Kilkenny on November 28th, her total championship minutes for Ephie Fitzgerald’s footballers amounts to an 18-minute substitute appearance in the semi-final win against Galway last Sunday week.
Given her form for West Cork in the summer, her injury came at the wrong time.
‘It was bad timing alright, but I was lucky it wasn’t a long-term injury,’ she says.
‘I missed the football games when we were building, against Kerry and Cavan, but I was delighted to get minutes under my belt against Galway – and I had those camogie championship games too so I feel I’m going well again.
‘It’s all about getting back to where I was, and I think I’m there. The ankle feels good now, touch wood, and it’s holding up well.
‘When it’s such a short season, you think to yourself, “please, not now,” but you just get on with it.’
Coppinger is a serious option off the bench for Cork. In four county championship games for West Cork she kicked 6-10, including goals in every match. Coming on as a sub requires a different mind-set, she explains. ‘You have to keep it in your head that they are bringing me on for a reason. It’s about doing the simple things and I think getting on that first ball is massive. When you get that, it settles you. You have to keep your focus, not think that you have to do this, this and this. Keep it simple,’ she says.
If she’s called on this Sunday against Dublin, she’ll be ready. Even though trips to Dublin at this time of year are usually for Christmas shopping, this has been anything but a standard year, yet there’s an opportunity now for Coppinger and Co to make 2020 memorable.
‘We are all delighted to be playing and we are where we want to be, even though my timings are all over the place! I definitely don’t think it’s Christmas!’ she laughs.
‘Whether it’s in September or in December, an All-Ireland medal is worth the wait.
‘If we get the right result, it will be the best Christmas present we could have asked for.’
As for her Christmas shopping to look after the Coppinger clan at home in Kealkill, the plan is to hit the shops last minute next week. Hopefully, she’ll have a smile on her face and a new medal to show off when she comes home to West Cork for Christmas.