‘It was horrible afterwards, not so much for me but for my family’ says Cork camogie star Hannah Looney

Cork play Tipperary in the second round of the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League today.

Q: After losing last year’s All-Ireland final to Kilkenny, what is the mood like in the camp now, with the League getting underway last weekend?

A:

The last few years I was involved the League was more an experimental thing but this year, there’s a buzz around the camp that we want to go out and win the League, win Munster and win the All-Ireland. 

It’s how Kilkenny went last year and it worked for them. We just want to win every game. We’ll still be trying new people and trying people in new positions but winning is a good habit. 

We’ve been back training a bit longer too, since December, so we’re taking it very seriously. 

Maybe if we’d have won the All-Ireland last year, the likes of Gemma (O’Connor), Rena (Buckley) and Aoife Murray might have packed it in, and maybe (manager) Paudie (Murray) too.

But it just hurt so much. I don’t know are we a bit embarrassed with the way we played? Kilkenny deserved the win but we didn’t turn up on the day. It hurt a lot of people.

Q: Did you talk about it? Have you any idea why it happened?

A:

We were so flat. It’s only now that people are putting it behind them. 

The last few months we’ve been really low, dwelling on what we could have done, what we should have done and what happened. 

It’s really hard to put our finger on it. Even when we went in at half-time we felt we would come out in the second half and step it up but it never happened.

Q: Footage of ‘The Push’ involving you and Colette Dormer during the handshake prior to the game went viral. What was that like?

A:

It was horrible. I had thought nothing of it until after the game and I turned on my phone.

It was just the heat of the moment. I didn’t mean any harm. There were two of us in it and I met Colette Dormer at the All-Stars.

It’s nothing you’d hold against anyone. But it was horrible afterwards, not so much for me but for my family. They took it fairly badly, seeing all the online abuse. 

I just ignored it but it did get a bit out of hand and it wasn’t nice to see. My parents and my brother would still be very hurt over it.

Q: People were judging you as a person on the basis of that two seconds.

A:

The majority of these people never watched a camogie game in their life or have no interest in it. It wasn’t nice.

Q: It was a tough end to a season that had been going so well. You scored five points from play in a tight semi-final that went to extra-time, and were involved all year with the footballers including playing in their semi-final. You were looking forward to two All-Ireland finals and it all went wrong.

A:

It was really one of the most disappointing years on a personal level. 

The year had been going great for me, then the camogie All-Ireland was a disaster, and then to get dropped off the football panel for the final just made it really hard. 

The season could have been one of the best of my life and it ended so badly.

Q: What’s the situation with the football now?

A:

I got a phone call I think the Tuesday before the football All-Ireland to say that I hadn’t made the panel and I haven’t heard from management since so I’m concentrating on the camogie with Cork at this stage.

I think I deserved a little bit more respect than the management showed me but I really do want to play football for Cork again, and am playing with the college and Aghada. 

If I get the invitation again I will be delighted to play. But it will be interesting to see how I progress in my camogie by concentrating on that because it was really hard at times last year. 

When you’re trying to jump between the two, you’re never able to give your all to one and I was struggling a bit with my Achilles during the summer as well.

Briege (Corkery) and Rena have been doing it for years though, so it’s obviously possible, but it will be interesting to see if my camogie improves.

Q: You set a standard for yourself in last year’s semi-final.

A:

That’s it but I know I have more than that to give too. The last few years people were saying ‘She’s only a young one’ but there’s none of that now. 

I have established myself and now I really need to drive on this year. That’s the goal.

Q: And get Cork back on top of the tree again?

A:

We want to set a marker in the League. There are really good vibes and it’s great to see Gemma, Rena and Aoife back and playing the League. 

They’re gunning to not let Cork camogie be remembered by the 2016 final. 

We totally underperformed and that really hurts. It’s something that will surely drive us on this year. 

Since I was on the panel, we won in 2014, we won in 2015 and there was no real game throughout that campaign where we didn’t perform. It

Q: You said in an Evening Echo interview that Joanne O’Callaghan welcomed you your first time in with the seniors. You’re only 19 but this is your fourth season with the seniors. Are you conscious of making the newcomers more comfortable?

A:

Definitely. There’s a good bunch of young people in there like myself, Orla Cronin, Laura Treacy and Méabh Cahalane, coming into our third and fourth year on the panel.

We’re not the older crew yet but we’ve been there a little while and the new girls coming in might find it easier to talk to us as we’re closer in age to them.

It’s very important to make sure you’re bringing them along; it made such a difference for me in my first year. 

You have the likes of Chloe Sigerson who’ll definitely be seen in the League. It will be great to see how they get on.



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