CORK’S REMARKABLE CAMOGIE star Gemma O’Connor crowned yet another brilliant year when she was crowned Players’ Player of the Year on Saturday night.
O’Connor also collected a ninth Allstar award to go with the nine All-Ireland medals she has annexed during the course of a glittering career.
But the 2015 final was tinged with sadness as O’Connor paid an emotional post-match tribute to her mother Geraldine, who was suffering with cancer.
Geraldine has since passed away.
“My Mam was diagnosed just over 12 months ago, I know so many people are touched with this disease,” O’Connor told RTÉ Sport’s Jacqui Hurley.
“I suppose when you play a sport, when that person is such a massive part of you, it becomes such a massive part of your life and you don’t know anything else bar having that person alongside you.
“She is your right hand man, I would not be here today only for her. She’s an amazing person and her heart is what drove me on until the last days of the camogie final. It’s just absolutely amazing.
“The GAA, it comes down to grassroots level, it’s about community spirit and and family spirit, and that’s what it’s about.”
Despite losing a number of players before the 2015 season, including last year’s All-Ireland winning captain Anna Geary, Cork still managed to retain their crown.
And O’Connor reflected: ”I think you just go out and play every year as it is. Some years are good and some years aren’t. This year worked out perfectly for us.
“I’m just grateful that behind Paudie Murray’s management it worked in our favour and it worked in my favour. The county board and Paudie Murray were superb from start to finish.
“I don’t know, you might find that strange but between 2002 and 2015, our biggest problem was inconsistency. We’re after reaching 11 finals in between that and some people probably think that’s absolutely magnificent.
“Then other people say what happened in between? But there was always a massive trawler of great players coming along the way and you just have to adapt, get on and Paudie Murray in the last four years left no stone unturned and did everything he could possibly do. It was up to us at the end of the day, fortunately for us it worked out and we were able to reap the benefits.”
And O’Connor has revealed that she will play on for at least another season, as she goes in search of a tenth All-Ireland medal.
“To be honest, you ask yourself time and time again, when are you going to give up? I’ve asked myself that question and I’ve come up with the answer that I’ll give it one more year and then one more year will definitely be it.
“You look at the likes of Jenny O’Leary who has gone, what a player, what an athlete. I aspire to Jenny O’Leary, she’s a super player and athlete, what a humble girl she is and if I could be like Jenny O’Leary, I have all the boxes ticked.
“For me it’s important to realise your stopping point. Of course you want to go out on a high, that’s what next year is about.
“Other teams are going to try to stop that but if it doesn’t mean it’s not going to be a high, so be it, but that’s my objective for nest year.
“I don’t want to be the player that’s straggling along. I want to try and finish where I’m fit and capable.
“Everybody has their own standards, I want to give it one last chance to win another All-Ireland.”