Laura Treacy may be inexperienced when it comes to top-flight camogie but the 20-year-old has a wise head on those young shoulders.
It explains why Cork manager, Paudie Murray has entrusted the vital No 3 jersey to the young Inch woman this year, following an eye-catching season at corner-back that ended with an All-Ireland medal and an All-Star nomination.
Treacy is less than a fortnight away from second year general nursing exams at Waterford IT but insists on maintaining her level of training and playing, recognising the benefits to her academic life.
It was the same two years ago as she sat her Leaving Cert and it was the message she delivered to the local schools when she toured the Duffy Cup after last year’s Croke Park heroics.
“I would have to play camogie to keep me sane,” says Treacy. “I preach to any Leaving Cert students to keep training. It makes you get your work done before you go training. It clears the mind and when you come back you’re refreshed. I’d often do another hour (of study) after training because you have a fresh head and the information goes in then.
“Anyone that does any sort of sport, swimming or whatever, keep at it, even if you want to cut it down to one or two nights a week. I played minor with Cork and trained with the seniors while I was doing the Leaving Cert and I’d say I wouldn’t have got on as well if I didn’t.”
The Killeagh clubwoman has enjoyed a wonderful few months, following up her Croke Park whirlwind by helping WIT win the centenary Ashbourne Cup at DCU last February.
In the meantime, she has been the fulcrum of a defence that is the meanest in Division 1 of the league, conceding an aggregate of just 31 points (less than eight points a game) as Cork sauntered through Group 2 with a 100% record.
The facilities and standard of coaching at WIT means Murray hasn’t demanded Treacy’s presence during the week. She catches up with the Rebels on Fridays and Sundays for training and games.
Her rise has been remarkable. Having only managed to make the U16B team in 2011, she blossomed with the minors the following year and earned a call-up to the senior panel as Cork lost what is considered one of the best All-Ireland finals of the modern era to a Wexford team completing a three-in-row.
“I was way down the panel but the experience I gained that year… even just going to Croke Park, knowing the whole set-up of how an All-Ireland runs… helped me so much last September. I would have been a bag of nerves only for it because I wouldn’t have known what to expect.
“So in fairness to Paudie Murray and Brian Barry and the lads, they called me up. I was the youngest and I got the experience of the All-Ireland. And losing as well, which is very important.
“Words can’t even describe winning it last year. It’s nearly a blur. It bypasses you very quickly. I was 19 and to be playing in Croke Park was a dream come true, not to mind to win with the likes of Gemma O’Connor, who was my idol, and Orla Cotter… all those girls who I looked up to when I was small down in Killeagh field and they came down to Cúl camps training us.
“To go up and win an All-Ireland with those girls was incredible.”
Included was clubmate and dual-code legend, Angela Walsh.
“Croke Park is nearly a second home for her at this point with all the All-Irelands she has in her pocket! Every girl supports each other in the weeks leading up to it and I think we really bonded as a team as well.
“We didn’t have a great start to the year so we sat down, regrouped and got things together for the Championship and every game we improved.
“But Angela was great. I travelled with Angela to matches and she’d be making sure you’re alright. Keeping you going. A great help and good to answer any questions. She’d be one that you’d go to.”
The hunger to succeed has not been sated by that victory. Back-to-back All-Irelands is the ultimate aim for the year but it is evident that the Leesiders are intent on building an aura of invincibility by winning every game and every title. That includes the league.
Tomorrow’s semi-final in Charleville (2pm) will be difficult though as Limerick continue to make giant strides. “In the likes of Caoimhe Costelloe they have outstanding young players coming through. Limerick won the minor All-Ireland last year so they’re flying. They’re on a high, those girls. They feel they have nothing to lose and go out with an open mind. And after winning the intermediate, they have those positive experiences behind them. It will be our toughest challenge yet this season.”
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