Profile of camogie improving, says Galway captain Heather Cooney

Heather Cooney can barely believe so much time has passed since Galway won the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship in 2013.

The St Thomas defender has been appointed Galway captain by new manager Mark Dunne this year and in many ways it is a natural fit for the 28-year-old primary school teacher at Killeeneen NS, who has been an ever-present since stepping up to the senior ranks in 2010, the year after winning an Intermediate All-Ireland.

The former All-Star does have some context with regard how these things can go, however, with her brother Conor one of the hurlers’ go-to attackers as they look well placed to draw a curtain on what stands at 29 years of hurt since they went all the way.

Camogie is gradually earning more recognition but one wonders if there is a part of Cooney that might make her think a high profile is not all it is cracked up to be when she witnesses the criticism that her brother and his teammates have had to endure in recent years.

“I do think there’s a lot of pressure on the lads and people are quick to put them down” says Cooney.

“There are definitely times I look and I think, to be criticised to that degree is not nice.

“But, then again, with the level of coverage they’re getting, that comes.

“Would you be happy to open yourself up to that level of criticism? I don’t know, I don’t think anyone would but in saying that, on the good days then there’s the loud praise.

“The profile of camogie is definitely improving and that’s all for the good. I would never put that in a negative light.”

She agrees a significant step in that journey will be when analysis is honest and players are called on costly errors.

“Oh my God, I don’t think there’s anything worse than someone being patronising saying that was good for a girl and things like that.

“If there’s a mistake made, it should be said. If it’s ‘Ah the poor girl that was unfortunate’ that’s just talking down to you.

“There is so much that comes with a profile.

“Playing in front of crowds is great and things like playing our matches before the lads is something I really like.

“It means we get better crowds and people heading down to the camogie match a bit earlier to have a look. It makes a difference.”

Galway face Dublin at Parnell’s GAA in Coolock today (2.30pm) in what will be their first competitive outing since losing to Kilkenny in the League Semi-Final on April 9th.

“It feels like it’s been forever.

“We’ve had club games, challenge games, panel games among ourselves but you really feel like you want to go out there and get started.


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