Moving On

3 players retire with 15 All-Ireland senior medals between them, now Cork try to replace them

Joanne O’Callaghan, Jennifer O’Leary and Sara Hayes have all retired from the Rebel setup.

REIGNING ALL-IRELAND camogie champions Cork are getting set for life without three of their most celebrated players in 2015 but captain Anna Geary believes the onus is now on the squad’s younger members to step up to replace them.

Defender Joanne O’Callaghan has retired with six All-Ireland senior  medals, Sara Hayes won five All-Ireland senior titles during her career while Jennifer O’Leary was part of four triumphant All-Ireland senior teams.

Joanne O'Callaghan Joanne O'Callaghan receives her Allstar award last year. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

“Jennifer O’Leary announced her retirement and Joanne O’Callaghan would have announced it before Christmas,” outlines Geary. “I suppose two players like that that would have been fulcrums in the last decade. You do have to adjust.

Anna Geary Anna Geary at the launch of the Women's GPA yesterday. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“There’s going to be other players in different counties in the same situation. That’s the beauty of an inter-county team, nobody is irreplaceable. When you think of the calibre of players we’re losing, it’s disappointing.

“But it’s up to the younger players to make that step up. It’s up to them to see if there are places up for grabs and to see if they can evolve to fill those boots, now they’re big boots. Hopefully we have the talent in Cork to do so.

Joanne O'Callaghan (second left) and Jennifer O'Leary (fifth left) both won Allstar awards last year. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

O’Leary bowed out on a triumphant note after a year that saw her show unwavering devotion to Cork’s camogie cause. Living and working in Armagh didn’t deter her from embarking on a round trip of almost 500 miles for team training sessions.

“There was definitely unfinished business last year, I knew there was more in the team. There was no pressure by Paudie (Murray – Cork manager), he was very understanding and I did fitness work and gym work myself in Armagh before coming back down at weekends.

Sara Hayes and Mary O'Connor Sara Hayes after Cork's 2009 All-Ireland final win. Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

“It’s motorway all the way down, on a good day, you’d do it in three and a quarter hours. You just get yourself into the right mind frame. I never dreaded the journey, I’d keep myself busy listening to music or being on the phone to people.

“I got married in Cork last summer so I was down there a good bit in the middle of the season. Even when we went on the honeymoon to Las Vegas and Mexico, I kept doing some training.”

Jennifer O'Leary is interviewed after the game Jennifer O'Leary is interviewed after the All-Ireland final win over Kilkenny. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

And by the close of the season, O’Leary was rewarded with All-Ireland glory as she signed off from a stellar inter-county career.

“It was definitely one of the most special All-Ireland wins. When the final whistle went against Kilkenny, I was just unbelievably happy. The team really bonded this year and the win gave everyone such a big lift. That’s what made it so special.”


The Cork camogie team are currently fundraising for their team holiday and have organised a race night at Curraheen Park greyhound stadium in Cork on Friday February 13th.

For information on how to support, see or contact Brian Barry on 086-8100085

The Women’s GPA has been ‘a long time coming’ says Anna Geary

Cork player retires with four All-Ireland medals and eight Allstar awards