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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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'He loves a challenge, and I think he sees this year as a challenge. He's the right man for that job'

Cork All-Star Amy O’Connor is pleased to see Paudie Murray at the helm once again.

Amy O'Connor and Paudie Murray.
Amy O'Connor and Paudie Murray.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

WHILE CORK ALL-STAR Amy O’Connor considers the 2019 camogie season a success for the game, “obviously with Cork, it wasn’t.”

She says it as it is.

“I will always say that if you’re from Cork and you don’t win, it’s not good enough,” O’Conor states. “It was very, very disappointing to be knocked out in the semi-final by Galway on a day that we were awful.

“We were disgusted really, it’s the only word I could use. Very disappointing. It was my first year being involved with Cork, not in an All-Ireland final. Even at minor and U16, you’d always be making finals.

“I think the most disappointing thing is we just didn’t perform.”

Like her manager, Paudie Murray, she credits Galway for being the better team that day, though. And probably all year. Yet still, it doesn’t take away from Cork’s disappointment. 

One silver lining over the past few days, perhaps, is the news that Murray will stay on. The four-time All-Ireland winning boss had made his mind up to go this year, but was driven by that semi-final loss to Galway to remain in charge on for a ninth season.

To O’Connor’s delight.

“Very pleased,” the Knocknaheeny star forward said at the launch of the Liberty Insurance Camogie All-Stars Tour to New York yesterday. 

“Delighted. I think Cork camogie at the moment may go through a bit of a transformation. Now, I don’t know if anyone’s retiring or anything, but I think we’ll be introducing an awful lot of new faces.

“I think the only person that could have potentially taken that job and was capable of taking that job is perhaps Paudie Murray.

amy-oconnor Cork camogie star Amy O'Connor. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“He’s done it before, I think we had 12 or 14 retirements in 2014. As I say, I’m not sure if we’re going to have any retirements but even if we don’t, I think Cork camogie is at a transformation stage now. It might take six months, it may take a couple of years.

“We don’t know how long it’s going to take but I do think that Paudie Murray is the right person to lead that, along with his backroom team. I was very, very pleased with Paudie — the amount he’s done for camogie, and the amount he’s done for other counties unbeknownst to other counties is unbelievable.

The amount he’s brought the game on in general… we need to make camogie like hurling, we need to make it as exciting, as I say, and I think people like Paudie Murray being involved is only the way forward.

Speaking to The42 on Wednesday, Murray explained that he didn’t want to step down on that last four losing note and effectively made the call to stay on in September.

“To be fair to Paudie, Paudie has nothing to prove at all with the amount he has done for camogie,” O’Connor stresses. “But he loves a challenge, and I think he sees this year as a challenge.

“Bringing on new players, trying to blood new players, and seeing where that takes him. I don’t think he’s coming back to prove anything, I think he’s coming back to challenge himself.

“Obviously we’ve lost two three in a rows now, and with the transformation that may or may not take place — I don’t know — I think he just sees that as a challenge. I hold my hands up to him and say fair play.

You’d have people that might shy away from that. As a group of players, we’re thrilled that he’s staying on and I do think he’s the right man for that job.

As Murray said himself, “I always wanted to leave the team in a better situation than when we got it,” and when that point is put to O’Connor, it’s most definitely appreciated. 

She stresses time and time again that himself and his backroom team — bolstered now by the addition of experienced coach Liam Cronin — have nothing to prove. 

But the fact that he didn’t want to leave Cork in a negative place shows the character of the Cloughduv man, she nods.

paudie-murray Cork manager Paudie Murray. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“It just shows the type of man he is that when Paudie Murray leaves, he wants to leave Cork camogie in the best possible shape that it could be,” O’Connor says.

“I know that when Paudie took the job, Cork camogie probably wasn’t in a very good place. He brought us to a good place. Maybe we’re in a bad place at the moment, and I think he wants to try and bring us back to that place before he does go.

“Hopefully it won’t take him too long. With the introduction of new players, it can be hard. They’re obviously very young. We’ve won the last two minors now but before that I can’t remember when we won a minor….”

“We’ll see how the league goes,” she continues. “I presume we’re going to have a large panel just to see what’s out there.

“We have new county champions in Sars so it will be interesting to see if a few of them will stake their claim. We have one girl from Sars, Niamh O’Callaghan, but I’m sure there’ll be more introduced. And with the winning minor teams from the last few years, that can only be a positive.

“Hopefully they’re ready, and if they’re not, hopefully Paudie will stick by them if he believes in them and wants them to be part of his plans.”

2020 is about bouncing back, O’Connor nods as she stresses they need to focus on themselves. That, they certainly will.

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Emma Duffy

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