'She nearly makes a fool of us who have been there for a year and a half!' - back for Cork's All-Ireland bid

Briege Corkery aims to help her side land All-Ireland glory again on Sunday.

Briege Corkery in action in the 2015 semi-final for Cork against Kilkenny.
Briege Corkery in action in the 2015 semi-final for Cork against Kilkenny.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

CORK’S PLACE IN the All-Ireland final was assured, Tipperary’s championship exit was close to being confirmed.

And yet in the dying moments of that semi-final last month in Semple Stadium, there was still some intrigue due to a headline-grabbing substitution.

Cork’s fifth sub of the evening was introduced but when the player has 17 All-Ireland medals to her credit and is returning after a two-year absence, it was always set to command attention.

Briege Corkery is back in the Cork camp with an All-Ireland camogie final in their sights on Sunday.

“It was brilliant,” recalls Cork captain Aoife Murray.

“On a personal level, Briege is my clubmate and seeing her come back I was so proud of her.

“As a team-mate, I probably didn’t expect anything less. Even though we didn’t expect her to drop her hurley when she came onto the pitch.

“She’s been great and she’s a great role model for any soon-to-be mums that play camogie that you can actually do this and keep going. She’s brought a huge amount of fun back into our panel for sure.”

Briege’s Tadhg was born in late March and he’s been a frequent visitor to Cork training sessions since she returned.

“She came back and we all had a big smile on our faces because she probably did something funny before she got to the dressing-room,” says Murray. 

“I think for everyone of us there when she sounded out to come back, I don’t even think most people got to the end of the sentence and they were smiling.

“She’s got 17 All-Irelands and if we ever held a grudge about her coming back, I don’t think it would say a whole lot about us as fans of the sport and how much we respect our team-mates.

“Sometimes it actually just comes down to enjoyment. You never know what might happen tomorrow so why not make the most of it today and seeing a young mum come back, it just shows that it’s doable. Now she’s got great support from her husband Diarmuid.

“Tadhg comes to our training sessions. He does. Her nephews babysits. It’s brought a great family feel to it.”

Cork team Briege Corkery (second front right) before their All-Ireland camogie semi-final meeting with Tipperary. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Murray believes the break was to Corkery’s benefit after a relentless schedule of juggling camogie and ladies football over several seasons. 

“I think she just needed some time away from both codes. She needed some time away to experience life on different fronts. 

“It certainly helps me on the age front with club so she’s just come back with a pep in her step and it’s contagious.

“She went to Canada [years ago] and to be fair she’s travelled actually quite a lot for someone who has won 17 All-Irelands. She always did and she loves travelling. 

“And maybe that has kept her going, those little mini-breaks. But you know Briege could train four times for you and milk 500 cows on the one day.

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“I’d to stop her [one time], we were on the way to the garage and she had broken her wrist. We were playing in a Munster club final – our first time ever getting to a Munster club final – and she was trying to get the angle-grinder to cut her plaster off so I refused to drop her home.

“That’s just the kind of [person she is], she’d kind of look at you as if to say ‘why not?’ There’s a lot of medical reasons why not but anyway.”

Briege Corkery celebrates with her nephews Briege Corkery with her nephews after a quarter-final win with Cork over Tipperary in 2015. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Rejoining a Cork squad who were hitting full speed in their championship preparations did not hinder the multi All-Ireland winner.

“Anybody who knows Briege knows that she’s never given anything less than 100%. To be fair for someone who has come back into the set-up and that set-up being almost two years on the go… it’s taken us a year and a half to get used to some of the stuff they have us doing.

“And for her to come back in and really take it and not to be afraid to make a mistake and understand it.

“She nearly makes a fool of us who have been there for a year and a half!

“Hopefully all that will be reflected in the final and we can give her the main thanks that we can possibly give her. But I personally am just delighted she’s back.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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