By Catherine Shanahan
They christened a bridge after Christy and bored a tunnel in the name of Jack, so surely it’s time to re-name the Inniscarra Dam in honour of the local legend, the most decorated player in GAA history?
Any landmark would do well to bear the name of Rena Buckley, holder of 18 All-Ireland senior medals, 11 for football, seven for camogie, the most recent earned at the weekend, when Rena captained the team to a one-point win against Kilkenny.
Speaking tonight at the homecoming on the South Mall in Cork, team manager Paudie Murray said it struck him driving around the city that Jack had the tunnel and Christy had the bridge, “so it’s about time now that something was named after Rena”.
The roars of approval for the unparalleled achievements of the 27-year-old Inniscarra woman could surely be heard in nearby City Hall where debates about what-should-be-called-after-who regularly take place.
Jamie Forde, who celebrates his 12th birthday today, was among the crowd welcoming home the 27-time All-Ireland winners, a success that edged them just ahead of Dublin on the camogie roll of honour.
Jamie, wheelchair-bound, was straining to get a glimpse of his heroines and was rewarded for his perseverance when Captain Fantastic herself handed him the O’Duffy Cup and posed for the cameras.
“Is this a press conference he asked,” when asked what his name was. His friends and neighbours Claire O’Connell and her daughter Shauna (14) were on standby to look out for the young lad from Fairhill who couldn’t believe his good fortune. Claire had taken daughter Shauna (14) to Croke Park for the match and she was delighted with the overnight and the day off school.
Chloe Cremin (7) from Carrigaline and her friend Robyn O’Mahony (7) were togged out at Kent Station, shouting a welcome for the ladies, along with Robyn’s brother Seán (11). They were particularly enthusiastic about Gemma O’Connor who managed to line-out on the day and score a vital equaliser, despite being officially ruled out of the game with a knee ligament injury.
There were many emotional tweets about her contribution, perhaps the most telling vis-a-vis her dedication “I knew Gemma O’Connor couldn’t not play, even if she was injured”.
Chloe and Robyn and Seán were part of a 75-strong crowd that travelled from Carrigaline to Croke Park at the weekend, primarily to support local girl and intermediate team player Rachel O’Shea. Rachel will have to do it all again against Meath in three weeks in the intermediate All-Ireland replay after the sides drew 1-9 on Sunday.
Over on South Mall, Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald was getting into the groove with Tina as "Simply the Best" boomed out to welcome the champions who arrived by open top bus following a garda escort from Kent Station.
He described the girls as “fantastic ambassadors” and kept his speech brief, acknowledging he could “never compete with Rena”.
County Mayor Declan Hurley described the win as “a fantastic outcome for Ladies’ Sport”.
Sandra Murphy, from Limerick, just happened to be passing as the celebrations got underway.
Asked if she was interested in camógie, her response was a good one: “I am interested in girls doing well,” she said.
Bishop of Cork and Ross, John Buckley, said he had challenged the girls to put in a superhuman effort and they had delivered.
He couldn’t explain how Gemma O’Connor had played through her injury - “All of a sudden, she was passed fit” - but he thought it might be attributed to a certain priest, henceforth to be known as a miracle worker.
He said the ladies had earned Cork’s “appreciation, admiration and thanks”.
“Where would we be without the women? If you want a job done, ask a woman, if you want someone to talk about it, ask a man.” And the crowd said “Amen to that.”