Former Cork football manager Ephie Fitzgerlad (left) and outgoing camogie boss Paudie Murray. Inpho Sports.
Changing of the guard

'I'm grateful for their years of service to Cork, and the opportunities' - praise for outgoing bosses

Rebels dual star Hannah Looney pays tribute to the departing Paudie Murray and Ephie Fitzgerald.

CORK DUAL STAR Hannah Looney has paid tribute to departing Cork camogie and ladies football managers, Paudie Murray and Ephie Fitzgerald.

The All-Ireland winner and All-Star has developed into one of the top players in the country under their watch, having had both managers through her entire Rebels senior career thus far.

Murray stepped down as camogie boss last month, bringing the curtain down on a 10-year tenure in which he delivered four All-Ireland crowns. He has since been appointed as the county’s minor hurling manager.

Fitzgerald, meanwhile, finished up as Cork ladies football manager having held the role since 2016, with Shane Ronayne taking the reins. The Nemo Rangers clubman steered the Rebels to All-Ireland glory in his first season in charge, with plenty more success enjoyed, but he now swaps jobs with Ronayne and takes over the Waterford men.

Both Cork teams’ 2021s ultimately ended in disappointment in the business end of the championship; the camógs falling just short to Galway in their return to the final, and the footballers stunned by eventual champions Meath in a dramatic semi-final comeback.

Looney has since moved to New York for work and is “here until the summer anyway,” but with new chapters beginning imminently in both Leeside camps, the Aghada and Killeagh star has hailed the outgoing bosses.

“Paudie Murray gave me my first chance to wear Cork jersey at the age of 17,” she told The42 last week.

“I’m nothing but grateful for that experience, for him having the belief in me, and I really do see I’ve developed as a player under Paudie from starting out at 17 to being a bit more established now.

“It’s been a great experience, and he’s given so much to Cork camogie and really brought a level of professionalism. I’m very grateful for that and grateful to have had the opportunity to play with some of the greats and win All-Ireland medals. Paudie has always had a great team with him as well.

“Same with Ephie, very grateful to be given that opportunity to wear the Cork jersey and just grateful for his years of service to Cork football. It’s a pity we didn’t get that All-Ireland as of yet, but it’s coming. Ephie has left us in a good way to build again.”

With renowned Mitchelstown coach Ronayne, the former Tipperary ladies and Waterford men’s boss and Mourneabbey mastermind, on board, the future certainly looks bright.

Off the back of Meath’s fairytale All-Ireland success, the hurt of their semi-final defeat should now translate to hope: the Royals got to the very top in their first year back in the senior ranks, so the Brendan Martin Cup can be anyone’s.

hannah-looney-before-the-game Hannah Looney. Evan Treacy / INPHO Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“Yeah, totally,” Looney nods. “I’ve had experience with Shane as well. He managed us U16 in Cork, has trained me in UCC for the four years that I was there. So I know he will leave no stone unturned. There’s an All-Ireland there if we want it, so hopefully we’ll get what’s needed to get over the line in the next year or so.”

While there’s been no official word on the camogie changeover, Jerry Wallace is the favourite to succeed Murray, with Rena Buckley and Ger Cunningham part of the committee tasked with hiring the new boss.

Question marks remain over 2022 for two players on the team anyway; 2021 captain Linda Collins, who has moved to Dubai for work, and, of course, Looney.

In an in-depth feature with The42 on Saturday, the latter confirmed that her inter-county plans going forward remain unclear, as she enjoys a new chapter Stateside.

“At the moment, it’s very much take it as it comes and see,” Looney said. “I’m not ruling anything in or ruling anything out. I will stay in touch with both new managements, football and camogie. I’ve had both managers since I’ve been playing with Cork, so a change will be interesting.

“I will keep in touch with both squads, but at the moment, I’m just trying to focus on what’s ahead of me here. I’m very proud of myself for just taking this leap. I could have just stayed at home, maybe moved to Dublin or stayed in Cork, and always wondered why or, ‘What if?’

“I’m here until the summer anyway, and we’ll see after that. If I come back, well and good. If I stay on, well and good too. There’ll still be plenty of years left me in the Cork jersey either way, but for now, I just have to take this opportunity.”


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