Nothing beats the thrill of playing and winning All-Ireland medals but Elaine Harte’s found the next best thing.
Cork’s eight-time All-Ireland senior medallist pulled the curtain down on a glittering career after landing the 2013 title but she’s currently plotting a new route to Croke Park with Tipperary, where she’s been based for a decade.
Harte is selector and goalkeeping coach with the Premier County, who are under the guidance of fellow Cork native Shane Ronayne.
A hard-fought victory over Wexford last weekend has set Tipp up for a crack at Meath in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies IFC semi-final on August 26 – and Harte’s relishing a new buzz.
She says: “It does (make up for not playing) in some ways but once the line is crossed, there’s nothing you can do. You can hope to make a few changes and encourage them on but it’s all about the players. It’s a different buzz. You enjoy it but you’d nearly have heart attacks on the line at the same time!”
Harte is still playing club football, and lining out in the colours of Tipperary outfit Moyne-Templetuohy, whose campaign ended recently.
If there’s a silver lining in the cloud, it’s that Harte now has the time to devote fully to Tipperary’s All-Ireland quest.
This weekend, however, she’ll be keeping a close eye on many of the players she soldiered with in Cork colours.
For the Rebels, an All-Ireland senior quarter-final against Galway is down for decision in Mullingar this afternoon.
Ephie Fitzgerald’s All-Ireland champions coughed up their Munster crown this summer – and didn’t contest the provincial decider after losing to Waterford and Kerry – but Cork’s record in the All-Ireland series is remarkable. Since that breakthrough senior win in 2005, they’ve lost just one game in the All-Ireland championship – a 2010 quarter-final defeat to Tyrone. And while Cork had to work hard before seeing off the Monaghan challenge in the qualifiers, Harte knows that they can build a head of steam that could carry them to September.
The decorated goalkeeper says: “I think they’re always going to have a big say in it. They had a few mishaps in Munster but there are young girls coming through and that will stand to them. While I wasn’t hugely impressed (with the Monaghan performance), they weren’t back to their full team and there were glimpses of it coming back.
“There’s still a lot to work on and Galway are going to be a difficult side. They have Tracey Leonard back fit, Róisín Leonard, Olivia Divilly – a lot of good players. They’re good footballing teams with very similar styles.”
Much of the pre-match chatter has centred on the plight of Cork’s dual star Libby Coppinger. With the county’s senior camogie team preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final team, Coppinger was left with a difficult choice. Fitzgerald moved decisively when he confirmed that he was releasing Coppinger to his camogie counterpart Paudie Murray – but Harte has strong views on the situation.
She says: “It’s just mind-boggling. I just don’t understand why people can’t forward plan. In my head, it’s a simple thing to do, get all the fixtures at the start of the year, all the possibilities, and not clash. I love ladies football, it’s done so much for me, but this part of it really annoys me.
“It’s like as if neither organisation will back down and then it’s the player that’s hurt in it. Thankfully, the decision is made for her with Ephie letting her go. I know they gave TV as a reason but if one organisation, whether it was camogie or ladies football, said ‘look, we’ll change’, the amount of positive publicity they would have got for doing so would have been huge.
At Croke Park a few weeks ago, they played an U17 All-Ireland hurling final, a minor semi-final and a senior semi-final on the same day. Why not ask to play before the minor football match on Sunday? TG4 will be there. Maybe they did ask, I don’t know, but they should think outside the box a small bit. They would benefit much more by saying ‘yeah, we made a mistake’ and try to help rather than sticking to their guns and saying it’s because of TV. It’s not a good enough argument, in my opinion.”
M O’Brien (Clonakilty); E Meaney (Mourneabbey), R Phelan (Aghada), E Spillane (Bantry Blues); M Duggan (Dohenys), B Stack (St Mary’s), S Kelly (Araglen Desmons Buí); N Cotter (Beara), J O’Shea (Inch Rovers); C O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey), D O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey), A Walsh (Inch Rovers); E Scally (Eire Og), A O’Sullivan (Beara), O Finn (Kinsale).
M O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey), A Hutchings (Fermoy), A Barrett (Donoughmore), R O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey), M O’Callaghan (Mourneabbey), A Hayes (Roscarbery), O Farmer (Midleton), L Coholan (St Valentine’s), A Kelleher (St Valentine’s), A O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey), L Cleary (Eire Og), D O’Shea (Inch Rovers), C Ambrose (St Valentine’s), E Kiely (Valley Rovers).
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