Valerie Mulcahy exits inter-county stage with perfect 10

Valerie Mulcahy has called time on her inter-county career, safe in the knowledge that there is little else for her to achieve inside the four white lines.

The 33-year-old corner-forward steps away from the Cork ladies football set-up with a remarkable 10 All-Ireland medals, 10 Munster senior championship medals, nine National League medals and six All Stars.

“The time is right. I’ve achieved everything I’ve wanted. I’m lucky to be in that position,” Mulcahy said last night of her 15-year spell in the red jersey.

“I am quite content leaving the sport now. When I was in it, it was all consuming, so I am going to try and enjoy other aspects of my life now and look at the girls from the stand.”

Mulcahy’s final hour in the red shirt — last September’s 0-12 to 0-10 All-Ireland final win over Dublin — ended with the Whitechurch native top-scoring, 0-7 she kicked, in the county’s latest Brendan Martin triumph. Indeed, of Cork’s 10 All-Ireland final wins, Mulcahy top-scored in eight. On the big occasion, she never faltered.

“My motivation isn’t where it used to be and I knew going into last year’s All-Ireland final that it would be my last. I savoured that moment and stayed on the pitch for as long as I could because I knew I’d never be back there like that again. I don’t miss it yet, but I do think I’ll get an itch in the height of the summer when the evenings are long, but, from speaking to the girls, they’re very impressed with Ephie [Fitzgerald], and it’ll be great to see players step up to the plate.

“I had a great time. I met loads of great people along the way and was very fortunate to be involved in the team we had. The players were committed and we had a management who were always behind us. We were a very motivated group, who got really close from just training a lot, having the craic and bonding over a common goal. I’ve enjoyed it all, but it’s time to move on.”

The man who oversaw those 10 All-Ireland titles, former ladies football manager Eamonn Ryan, likened Mulcahy to Kerry football legends.

“I would put her up there with Maurice Fitzgerald, Diarmuid Connolly, and Mikey Sheehy. She was that calibre of forward,” Ryan told RTÉ’s Nationwide programme last night.

“She made difficult things look quite simple. Nothing fazed her. While the rest of us would probably have been, at times, quite het-up before big games, Valerie loved the big occasion and, consequently, performed to her best because she was never beset by worries or insecurities on the big day.”

WGPA chairperson Aoife Lane also paid tribute.

“Valerie has left an incredible legacy as a ladies footballer, but her value extends way beyond the pitch. From a WGPA perspective, she led our movement right from the outset and stepped forward as a supporter of a players’ voice.

“Her own journey showed us that a player is also a person who faces challenges like any other and who sometimes needs help in their day-to-day life.”

Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis: 
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