CORK camogie captain Amanda O’Regan is disappointed the county’s GAA board has organised the semi-finals of the county senior hurling championship to clash with the Rebels’ All-Ireland final against Kilkenny at Croke Park on Sunday.
This is the second successive year that such a clash has occurred, while in the past, the county final has taken place while Cork have been competing in the All-Ireland decider.
This inevitably causes problems of allegiance, which invariably affect the camogie attendance.
In 2002, Paula O’Connor couldn’t even count on her family being able to show up, as her brothers Ben, Jerry, John and Eamonn were playing for Newtownshandrum in the Leeside hurling decider, while dad, Bernie, was managing the team.
“It is disappointing,” says O’Regan. “It’s disappointing for the girls whose clubs are playing in those semi-finals. For the Barr’s girls in particular, there’s no bus coming up because (St Finbarr’s) are playing in the senior hurling semi-final so it’s tough enough.
“They lose a bit of support and for us it is disappointing but there’s nothing we can do about it.”
She is still hoping that there will be a sizeable support however and reckons that it will be needed against the might of Kilkenny.
“When you’re at the top, you’re there to be knocked so you go in with that bit of fear in you. We know it’s a great occasion and it’s a privilege to play up here. We know if you get too nervous you lose the occasion so we’ll be just focused on the job in hand.”
O’Regan was awarded the captaincy as a result of Douglas winning the county title at the first time of asking last year. Sometimes the tradition of awarding such a vital honour to the local champions looks suspect, but O’Regan has proved to be an inspired choice.
She recently lost her place in the team, just as Michael Fennelly and Willie Ryan did for Kilkenny and Tipperary, but continues to inspire with her dedication, honesty and talks in the dressing room.
A holder of three senior All-Ireland medals already, as well as minor and junior mementoes, the Kanturk secondary school teacher holds the upper hand on her father, Michael, a selector of this team who won an All-Ireland minor football medal in 1974. Her mother Christine was a member of the Cork panel that won three junior camogie All-Irelands in the mid-80s.
Having her father involved will make it an extra special occasion for her, she reckons. Even if she does have to look on from the dugout – and there is no doubt that if this happens, it will be very tough to bear – O’Regan will always be about the team.
“This is the strongest squad that we’ve had in a long time and everyone is battling for every position on the pitch. It is very tough for everyone concerned but we have the young players there as well this year. We’re bringing them through. They should get a run on Sunday, all going well.
“We got a few players back that took last year out (Anna Geary and Emer Dillon) and with the young players coming through, they’re unbelievably talented. It makes us stronger as a squad. Everyone has to fight, there’s no complacency and no one’s safe.”
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