‘She was a dream to work with and coach’

Former Cork ladies football-winning manager and current Cork senior football selector Eamonn Ryan has paid tribute to retiring legend Rena Buckley, describing her as an excellent role model for young people who showed it is possible to be successful in both study and in sport, while also having a good life socially.

Cork captain Rena Buckley gives her Kilkenny counterpart Anna Farrell a hand after the All-Ireland final last year. Picture: James Crombie/Inpho

“I first came across Rena in 2004 when she was a Leaving Cert student. She was quietly spoken with a quiet personality. She was very co-operative to work with. It was obvious she was very talented at both camogie and football. She had already won a lot at underage level. But you wouldn’t have known about her successes unless someone told you.

“She never pushed herself to the front, and whatever you said to her to do, she did it. She never questioned you. She was a dream to work with and to coach. She was also a top-class student who did very well in her Leaving Cert, and it must be remembered this was all achieved in parallel to her sports.

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“She got her degree in physiotherapy at the same time as playing camogie and ladies football which is fierce testament to her commitment to both study and sport. She studied in Dublin, but you would only vaguely know about it because she got on with it. She trained in Dublin herself during the week.”

Rena captained her county to All-Ireland honours in both codes. She lifted the Brendan Martin Cup in 2012, followed by the O’Duffy Cup in 2017.

Ryan continued:

She led more by her deeds, than by her talking. And she did it in her own quiet way, leading by example. Over the years she would have filled different positions on the pitch — in the backs, in midfield, and in the forwards. You never had to cajole her into playing in any of these roles. She always played well no matter where she was selected to play.

“She seemed to always perform to the best of her ability. She never put herself first. It was a case of, if she performed, the rest of the team would follow suit. In all her years involved with camogie and ladies football she was very consistent in her performances. Her form never seemed to dip, which is extraordinary really.

‘Rena led more by her deeds than by her talking. And she did it in her own quiet way, leading by example,’ says Eamonn Ryan

“She was a very humble person, very dedicated, with no flamboyancy. She was still great craic. If we were away on holidays or on a night out, she would always sing a song. But she would never push herself to sing, again she would do it in her own quiet way.”

Her likes are unlikely to be seen again, said Ryan. “It would be hard to surpass those achievements in the two codes, especially with the level of fitness that is there today. With strength and conditioning and psychologists available, it would be very hard to emulate what Rena has achieved.”

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