Cork camogie boss Aoife Murray: We wanted to show more passion this year

Cork camogie keeper Aoife Murray described Sunday’s one-point win in the All-Ireland senior final as “the best drug ever — if you could bottle it we’d be very rich people”.

Cork took the title with a Julia White point six minutes into injury-time, avenging last year’s defeat by the same opposition.

“Every kind of hyperbole you could think of, you could use,” said Murray.

“The overriding feeling is one of sheer happiness.It’s just hard to describe.”

Was it all the better because of White’s late, late winner?

“Immediately afterwards, yes, but we were probably in a bit of shock just then. I knew there was going to be a result, I felt someone was going to win it, that there’d be another opportunity.

“When I saw Julia come on I was pretty confident a bit of space would open up because of her speed. I’m so thrilled for her, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer girl.

“And I wouldn’t have expected anything less. She’s so calm, so relaxed, at times you’d worry — ‘is she clued in here?’ — and then one touch and she’s gone, and you think, ‘fair enough’.

“I was thrilled for her because of all her work to come back. An Achilles is a pretty horrific injury to come back from, anyone who’s had one will tell you that, and she had more knocks this year.

“Any kids watching, to see her come on as a sub after 60 minutes and do that, she’s an absolute hero for them.”

Another hero was Gemma O’Connor, who overcame a knee ligament injury sustained in the semi-final to line out.

“She trained on the Thursday and was moving well, so we all presumed she’d start,” said Murray. “But we didn’t know if it’d be ten minutes or 15 minutes or what.

“We all felt that if there was one player who deserved the honour of the march around and starting the game, it was her.”

“Seeing the work she’s put in over the last three weeks, she’s an absolute inspiration.

“I was rooming with her so I was trying to be super-positive with her — ‘there’s nothing wrong with your knee, it’s grand’, and then I said I’d tape my knee as well to be knee buddies.

“Gemma’s phenomenal. And one of the funniest girls you’ll ever meet.”

Murray said Cork wanted to show more passion this year than last September: “We agreed we needed to show a bit of passion, that last September we didn’t show that passion which people mightn’t like Cork for sometimes.

“That annoyed us to a certain extent. It wasn’t losing, because there’s always a winner and a loser.

“I looked at the clock after Julia scored and thought, God, when did that happen’, where did the six minutes go. We wanted to give it a go and if we lost at least we’d hold our heads up going back to Cork.

“At half-time we said they’d have their purple patch, their ten or 15 minutes, and that it’d be all about the composure. We knew we had the fitness, and when you believe you’re fit, that you have the legs, then if you go two or three behind you feel it’ll still open up for you.

“Then you see the likes of Julia and Lauren coming on . . . we always had the belief that we’d walk away with our heads held high.

“Last year . . . when you lose and you play well, just look at the hurling final... Waterford gave everything they could and that’s what made it a great final.

“I know the (camogie) final wasn’t high-scoring, we knew it wouldn’t be, but our motto was to keep working — you never know where you might be at the end of it.

“We were fitter, too. We weren’t fit enough last September and probably overdid it trying to catch up. But this year even at half-time we were smiling at each other, enjoying each others’ company more than we did last year.

“I think when you’re under pressure then being better teammates can help you pull it out of the fire.”

And the history woman herself? Rena Buckley made it 18 All-Ireland senior medals and is now the only person in GAA history to captain her own county to senior All-Irelands in two codes.

“If you asked her she’d probably pretend it’s not true. She’s gas, so unassuming, that she’ll probably be embarrassed people will be saying that about her.

“There was something going around on social media about the first woman to captain football and camogie, but she was keeping the head down.

“That’s Rena. She doesn’t roar and shout, she’s very calm, but what she says she means, and that probably hits people more than me roaring and shouting.

“She’s completely honest on and off the pitch, what else would you want from a captain?”

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