Since the start of the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship, Ashling Thompson has insisted that talk of three in a row has not been entertained in the Cork dressing room.
Yet the Rebels’ captain openly admits that the legacy of her team is a great concern.
Their achievement in claiming back-to-back O’Duffy Cups have seen this Cork team emerge as the most formidable force on today’s senior inter-county scene, but a hat-trick of titles on the bounce would surely help them take their place among the greats.
Cork last managed the feat in 1972 en route to a fourth title on the spin the following season.
They have managed back-to-back titles six times since but they have yet to do another three in a row.
Still, Thompson claims it is only the here and now that has been up for discussion among Paudie Murray’s panel.
“I think we’ve managed to block it out,” said Thompson. “It’s kind of been the talk of the place [in Cork], the three in a row, and maybe it’s added a slight bit of pressure. But none of us are talking about it. It’s not what we focus on. We’ve always said it’s not about what happens in the past. We’re focusing on All-Ireland final 2016 and nothing else really.”
Yet Thompson recognises the irony when it is pointed out to her that ‘legacy’ is a term she has previously cited when describing the great ambitions of this Cork team. The Milford woman has spoken about her admiration of the county’s ladies footballers and their amazing run of 10 All-Ireland senior titles in 11 years, and she admits that leaving a legacy and being recognised as a great team is a goal.
“Exactly, it’s great for the county,” said Thompson. “As everyone knows, Cork GAA isn’t in the best of condition at the moment, but that’s transition too.
“We were even in a spot of bother going back five or six years ago, [with] the camogie, and we ended up pulling it out of the bag. We’re very proud, Cork are very proud of us… and I’d love to look back again in 20 years and say that we left that legacy of winning, you know, having that highest rate — 27 All-Irelands.
“I know now it doesn’t matter… but it would be absolutely wonderful to leave that legacy.”
At the moment, Cork stand tied in the record books on 26 senior titles with Dublin. Standing in their way tomorrow will be a Kilkenny outfit keen on reviving their own glory days as they chase a first senior crown in 22 years. The Cats have not been so much a sleeping giant as wounded felines, considering they have lost three finals in the last seven years with two of those defeats — including their most recent 2014 loss — coming to Cork.
Their last crown came in 1994 under the captaincy of Ann Downey, who is now leading them as manager, and Thompson recognises the challenge at hand.
“It’s going to be a very tough game,” said the Cork captain. “Kilkenny, they’re on form. They have been there the last few years, they just never got it together I think at the right time, but, look, some people say it’s their year. I suppose they have the right to say that, too. They’re All-Ireland finalists — they were two years ago, too, against ourselves. But we’re not worried about Kilkenny. We’re going to worry about ourselves and nothing else, and that’s what you have to do.”
Keeping them focused is manager Murray, who is again double-jobbing today with Cork’s intermediates also taking on Kilkenny in their final.
“It’s nothing to Paudie Murray,” said Thompson, praising her manager.
“As with every manager, they’re painful at times, but I wouldn’t have any other person over both squads. He’s just unbelievable when it comes to managing,” adds Thompson before adding with a laugh: “Especially women, I don’t know how he does it!”
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