Ciara O’Sullivan was present at GAA headquarters for the first three of Cork’s All-Ireland final wins, standing in awe as Juliet Murphy lifted the Brendan Martin Cup September after September after September.
In 2008, a 17-year old O’Sullivan moved from the stands to the sideline, a late introduction in the annihilation of Monaghan.
In each of the county’s five All-Ireland final appearances since, the Deloitte accountant has been present inside the whitewash. On Sunday, the ambition is join to list started by Juliet Murphy back in 2005 - that of Cork’s All-Ireland winning captains.
“When you look at the players who have captained Cork, Juliet, Angela Walsh, Ann-Marie Walsh, Mary O’Connor, Amy O’Shea, Rena [Buckley] and Briege [Corkery], it is kind of surreal to think my name could be on that list. Hopefully it will be come Sunday,” enthuses the right half-forward.
“The captaincy was something I was very nervous about at the start of the year. If you are given the opportunity, though, you are always going to take it. It is a massive, massive honour to lead this group of players.
“I was lucky to be playing when the likes of Angela Walsh and Ann-Marie Walsh were captain. I take my lead from them.
“All the players I have mentioned did their talking on the pitch as captain.
“What you got from Briege last year and all the girls that went before her was that they gave their all on the pitch. Everyone else feeds off that and I have been trying to do that this year, concentrating on as playing best as I can as often as possible and hoping the rest of it falls into place.”
Though once again successful in the league, O’Sullivan was not called upon to accept Munster championship silverware in early July — Kerry inflicting a nine-point defeat in the provincial decider at Mallow.
Any harsh words dished out in the losing dressing-room afterwards?
“Since I have been on the panel, it is not something that goes on, barking and giving out. On the field, if Briege or Rena needed to move tighter for a kick-out or something like that, I’d tell them, just as they’d tell me.
“I didn’t say anything out of the ordinary at half-time in the Munster final because everyone knew we weren’t playing well.
“Afterwards... everybody knew we had two choices; feel sorry for ourselves and give in or put the head down and go again.
“It was a collective decision that we would go again and I don’t think I had to say anything to help us make that choice.”
Ciara is joined on the starting team by her sister, Doireann, while there are two more siblings on the bench - Roisin and Méabh. Plenty of lively discussion so in the O’Sullivan household above in Mourneabbey this week.
“The main thing is the fight for gear in the house among the four of us. This is the first time the four of us are involved.
“Last year there was three, Méabh was called up this year. The four us distract each other.
“We talk about football on the way to training and on the way home from training.
“At home, we don’t. The parents are there long enough now and they know not to be asking too much, especially the week of a final.
“We tell them all they need to know. It is important the week of the match to stay relaxed. Mam and dad know that, they appreciate that. They won’t bring it up too often.”
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