Last week UCC beat bitter rivals CIT 3-15 to 0-12 to reach the quarterfinals of the 2017 Ashbourne Cup. In a squad bursting with talent, UCC now stand three games from avenging last year’s final loss to UL. While the great chapters of Cork hurling and football intervarsity sports are often watered down due to the selection, a possible Ashbourne Cup victory in 2017 would be instrumental in GAA on Leeside.
Leaving the Quad and going across the county, Cork’s Camogie set up had enjoyed a period of unparallelled success over the past ten years. Between 2007 and 2017 Cork’s senior camogie team has won four All Ireland titles, while losing three other finals. Throughout the period Cork have enjoyed much success on the All Ireland stage, winning three intermediate titles and three national league titles. In the club scene, Milford have been exemplary in their rise to the top, winning three All Ireland Club titles from 2013-2016. On the Third Level scene UCC has also lost four Ashbourne Cup finals, most recently in 2016 when The College were narrowly pipped by a mere two points by UL for the title, despite scoring 4-7 in the final.
What remains is the hotbed of talent in the Rebel County. A consistent springboard for talented camogie players capable of winning and competition in finals has seen Cork as the leading county in women’s camogie consistently since the inception of the competition in 1932. Throughout the annals of sporting history, some of the dominating names in Irish camogie have all heralded from Leeside; Anna Geary has become face of modern camogie through her All Ireland victories at Milltown and Cork, while UCC has consistently worked and developed young players’ potential; such efforts can be seen today with Orla Cronin, who divides her time between Cork and College.
One can only look at a number of reasons and factors as to this conveyer belt of talent in Cork. All Irelands have been consistent and numerous. While Dublin have been left reeling for camogie success since 1984; Cork has not endured a barren spell since 1940-1971. Old proverbs have been used and applied to the state of camogie on Leeside, such as, “success breeds success” and teams “have the experience of winning.” On saying this, one could also mention the hunger; the want and will to keep going, and to keep winning titles. The difference between great teams and legends.
Other, more pessimistic, takes at the success can be a national look at the game; are the other counties lagging, or is there a wider reasoning to the imbalance of successes in camogie? Equally, one could say this for Kilkenny and their hurling successes from 2006-2016, including their drive for seven consecutive Leinster titles.
Some days, maybe the stick and sliotar need to be dropped and a drink is needed. It could be something in the water of the Lee. All that has been accomplished, and all that remains are a legacy and appetite for success. Looking into history is easy; walking on is the hard part.