Valerie Mulcahy to savour what could potentially be last All-Ireland final

Valerie Mulcahy to savour what could potentially be last All-Ireland final

By Mary White

It's a decade since Cork's Valerie Mulcahy won her first All-Ireland medal, but in bidding for a tenth on Sunday, she knows the journey's coming to an end, sooner rather than later.

"I'm at the stage of my career when you have to appreciate everything, even the smallest of things," the 31-year-old forward admits.

Valerie Mulcahy to savour what could potentially be last All-Ireland final

"It could be the last press night, the last training session, the last bus trip into Croke Park with the girls and, if it is to be my last, I want to make sure I enjoyed every minute of the process."

Prior to 2005, Cork had never won a senior All-Ireland title, suffering years of hardship against the likes of Kerry and Waterford in the Munster Championship. Mulcahy has never forgotten that, nor how far Cork have come.

"Thankfully it's been so long ago since all the heartache and the tough times, but you never forget - especially those of us who never won anything prior to Eamonn (Ryan) getting involved in 2004.

"We never dreamt that we'd be where we are now. There were times in the past where you didn't even think you'd ever win a Munster title, not a mind get to an All-Ireland final, or even win one. A few of us still remember not being able to win even a championship match. It's part of your past I suppose, and who you are, and you don't forget."

Against Galway in 2005, Mulcahy won the first of three All-Ireland final Player of the Match awards, scoring 1-5, and the emotion of watching Juliet Murphy lift the Brendan Martin Cup for the first time in the county's 30-year history, still remains.

"I just remember walking around in the parade before the game and being delighted to be where I'd hope to be when I was a child, and knowing I was getting to fulfill a dream. It an amazing feeling."

Valerie Mulcahy to savour what could potentially be last All-Ireland final

Mulcahy will join Rena Buckley, Deirdre O'Reilly, Geraldine O'Flynn, Bríd Stack and Briege Corkery as the remaining six since that first All-Ireland win, but for the latter two it's extra special, as they've played every minute of every final.

"It's phenomenal," says Mulcahy.

"It really shows their true characters as players, and people. Bríd and Briege epitomise what the team is all about. Not just this year, but over the last decade - the fight, the hunger, the desire in the side, and it's an incredible achievement for them."

It's been a busy year for Mulcahy who openly spoke about her sexualixty in a documentary in January, prior to launching the newly formed WGPA, of which she's an executive member, before marrying her partner Meg Blyth this summer.

"There's been a lot of stuff off the pitch that was emotionally draining like the Gay Marriage Referendum and our wedding in June was a great high, but I'm always very focused on my football, and I'm looking forward to eventually heading away for our honeymoon now when the dust settles on Sunday."

A nine-time All-Ireland champion, Mulcahy has never lost in Croke Park, and on Sunday she hopes history repeats itself.

"I don't know why it is that we've never lost there. I think we're just a team that doesn't give up easily. We've a good work ethic and we're very focused, and I don't know if it's actually anything to do with Croke Park or not. But, we always strive to get to an All-Ireland final, that's our long term goal every year, and I suppose when you're there, it's about fulfilling that.

"But we know Dublin are a great team. They're fast and tenacious, and a lot of them are going to hurt from last year and will have a point to prove. so we're going to be very wary of that. We have to be, but we're not going to fear them. It's a whole new group for us, and for them, and it'll be a very different match."

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