Flying High

Back-to-back Cork titles and winning player of the match award after scoring 2-8 in final

Amy O’Connor helped Seandún to defend their county senior camogie title at the weekend.

ON AMY O’CONNOR’S list of sporting ambitions, it didn’t feature prominently.

amy-oconnor Cork's Amy O'Connor. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

A county senior medal? Followed by the completion of back-to-back final successes?

The Cork star never believed that such a senior accolade would ever be within her grasp until the divisional system in her county afforded her the opportunity.

Seandún are a city-based divisional outfit comprising various clubs, including Blackrock, Na Piarsaigh and O’Connor’s St Vincent’s. They began making a charge for the top prize, resulting in last year’s breakthrough.

Then on Sunday they backed it up on county final day 2022.

It was a fruitful occasion for O’Connor, who helped herself to 2-8 and the player of the match award after an intense showdown against Sarsfields.

O’Connor was joined by four of her club comrades on last year’s winning Seandún side, while five of them involved for this year’s success.

“If someone asked me two years ago about a senior county medal, I wouldn’t have even thought about it.

“I’m delighted that I’ve been given the opportunity now to have two, when it was something that I never even thought was going to happen.

“To be honest, if Seandún had always been entering teams, they probably would have always been there or thereabouts because of the calibre of players that are available to us.

“We’re in the city so there’s really good clubs available, especially Blackrock, Na Piarsaigh, and there’s some really good junior clubs available as well like my own club St Vincent’s, Bishopstown and Nemo [Rangers].

“We’re very lucky and I’m not saying that Seandún would have always been winning but they would have always been competing at that level.

“There was no team for a couple of years and some players can’t play in any given year for various reasons.

“It just happened to fall together for the last two years.”

Remaining at the summit of the Cork senior championship is a satisfying way for O’Connor to round off the 2022 season, particularly after losing out to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final.

County honours don’t quite compensate for the hurt of losing out on lifting the O’Duffy Cup, but it’s still a relief for her to step into winter on the back of a major win.

“It is nice to end the year on a high and close the book on 2022 with a win, but I don’t think it’ll make up for the sting of losing the All-Ireland final.

amy-oconnor-aisling-egan-and-ali-smith-dejected A dejected Amy O'Connor (left) after the All-Ireland final defeat. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

“I’ve reflected on it and I probably haven’t stopped thinking about it really but we just need to move on. At the end of the day, we probably weren’t good enough and we just need to figure out why and put a plan in place to make sure we are better in those areas next year.

“I just love playing it and I’m really enjoying it at the moment, and while I think I’m playing well, I still believe that I can play even better and that’s something I’m definitely going to take away and work on from the next couple of months in the hope of getting more opportunities with Cork, the club and Seandún.”

The Cork camogie championship is a competitive contest where dominant title runs are an unfamiliar sight, underpinning the scale of Seandún’s success. For O’Connor and the rest of the St Vincent’s contingent, it’s equally important for her to be able to bring home silverware and present it to the emerging talents in her club.

“It’s brilliant for the club itself to be able to show girls that it is possible to play senior and you can do it. It’s not being negative but the chances are that I might never play senior with my club.

“We were very close to the junior championship for a while and we’re probably not as close anymore but that might change in time, and the experience with the division will definitely help.”

The divisional sides allow junior and intermediate clubs in different regions of Cork to unite and compete in the senior championship. The Blackrock club was represented by four starting players on the Seandún team who prevailed on Sunday after holding off a late rally from Sarsfields.

However, the Blackrock club might not be under Seandún’s jurisdiction next year should they defeat Aghabullogue in the replay of the Cork intermediate final. That would allow them to get their own wings for the senior championship.

“We could lose them,” says O’Connor, “but at the same time, we could gain another club from the city. Aghabullogue are a very good club and I was at the game last week, and my heart was in my mouth for it. The Blackrock girls are some of the best players in the county to be honest.

“Erin Curtin came on for us and she was the gamechanger for us. She’s 17 years old and she plays with this absolute fearlessness.

“It’ll be an awful shame for us to lose those [Blackrock] girls if they are to go on and win it. But you’d obviously be delighted for them because they’re knocking on the door a long time now and they probably deserve to win that with their club.”

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