SHE may have stockpiled a slew of honours in the last few years, but Aoife Murray’s appetite for success has not been sated. Gazing ahead to Sunday’s All-Ireland camogie decider against Kilkenny, the Cloughduv goalkeeper finds the same levels of feverish anticipation building up.
“It almost feels like it’s your first time involved. I’m as excited as ever. Probably more so, as I’m a little older and you’re never guaranteed to be there again next year. The second Sunday in September is the aim for us every year and the possibility of what’s in store has made this so exciting.”
Cork’s outlook at the year was always focused towards this juncture. The league had its uses but in terms of mining new talent rather than success.
“The league is a great honour, but it’s not the be all and end all,” says Murray. “We used this year’s league to blood new players and try out players in different positions. The Mackeys, Julia White, Jennifer Lynch, all these young girls have showed up during the league. That’ll stand to us on Sunday, competition for places. When things are going against us, we know we’ve girls to bring us on.”
When the championship route manoeuvred past the group stages this summer, Cork were still standing. In the semi-finals, they found old foes Wexford, who toppled them in the 2007 All-Ireland final, lying in wait.
“You’d be lying if you said you hadn’t thought about the 2007 game beforehand,” remarks Murray. “I took that defeat very personally. We said let’s put a few things right here but when the game started, we soon realised that it wasn’t about settling scores. With the way they started, we’d to concentrate on just winning the game and realise that 2007 was gone.
“The first half against Wexford wasn’t impressive, but the second half against Wexford showed what we’ve learnt this year. People didn’t give us the credit we deserved for those tight wins against Kilkenny and Dublin. In winning these games, we learnt an awful lot about ourselves.”
Cork’s set-up has been tweaked this season, with Denise Cronin still at the helm and Frankie Flannery installed as the squad’s new trainer.
Murray raves about Flannery’s input: “The best thing about Frankie is he’s a very young guy who plays hurling himself and you can’t get enough of that in camogie. I’d come early to training myself and he’d take shots on me, and he hits them as hard as he would if any guy was in goal. He’s a hurling brain, his enthusiasm, his attitude, his willingness to listen to the players is brilliant. The way he has approached training is fantastic, it’s so different but it’s very enjoyable.”
Cork’s final opponents Kilkenny are embracing the novelty of an appearance at this level for the first time since 1995 and their numbers in the crowd should be swelled due to the county’s U21s featuring in the All-Ireland final on the same day. But Murray feels Cork can cope.
“The Cork crowds are always able to make their presence felt.
“We’ll lose some support because of the Barrs-Newtown match. Personally that’s splitting my family down the middle, I’d love to be watching my brother Kevin and vice versa.
“But we’ll just have to get on with it. We’d new opponents last year in Galway and it’s the same this year against Kilkenny. All that matters is that we win that game.”
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