# Another shot
'I hope when my little ones are playing, they'll look back and go, 'Wow Mom did that'
Former Cork camogie star Jenny Curry is heading for the All-Ireland Premier Junior final with Armagh this weekend.

JENNY CURRY FIRST got the itch to go back last year when her sister-in-law was telling her about the training she was missing out on.

jennifer-oleary-is-interviewed-after-the-game Cathal Noonan / INPHO Jenny Curry being interviewed after the 2014 All-Ireland final with Cork. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

She thought she had closed the book after the 2014 season. Under her maiden name O’Leary, she had just won her fourth All-Ireland camogie title with Cork and was an eight-time All-Star award recipient. But by the turn of 2015, her living situation had changed drastically as she moved up to her husband’s home county in Armagh. The commute to Cork couldn’t be sustained over that kind of distance, prompting Curry to announce her inter-county retirement.

She thought she was content with her lot, but new avenues materialised for her during married life in the Orchard county. Coaching opportunities emerged, while the chance to play club camogie with local side Middletown also popped up.

And then her sister-in-law Orla started telling her about the excellent training standards being implemented in the Armagh county team. Her other sister-in-law Stephanie was on the squad last year too. That planted a seed. Armagh then reached the 2021 All-Ireland Premier Junior final where they lost out to Wexford. That deepened Curry’s intrigue, although she couldn’t pursue anything last year as she was pregnant with her second child.

It wasn’t until her husband Paul got a sense for his wife’s urge to explore the idea that she drew courage to actually follow it through. That push has led her back to Croke Park for the first time since 2014, as Armagh prepare to contest the Premier Junior decider for the second year in-a-row.

“Orla was telling me that the training was really good and she really enjoyed it,” Curry tells The42 about the background of her decision to end her inter-county retirement and link up with Armagh.

“She’d often come from county training to club training and she’d just be buzzing about how sharp and snappy it was. She sold it to me, but it was my husband Paul who planted the seed this year. He said, ‘Why don’t you give it a go?’ And I was like, ‘Really? We have a newborn and a two year-old. This is absolutely mad.’

“But I’m delighted that he gave me that push because he knew himself that there’s only a limited time that you can keep playing and I suppose when I felt good about myself, and could get back the fitness, I’m glad I gave it a crack.”

jennifer-curry-with-aideen-coyle Evan Treacy / INPHO Curry on the ball for Armagh against Antrim. Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO


While playing for Cork, Curry shared the dressing-room with some major stars of the sport, including nine-time All-Ireland winner Gemma O’Connor. Their careers ran on parallel lines after they both joined the senior panel in 2002 and played instrumental roles in helping their county to an All-Ireland title in their debut season.

O’Connor sent a message of thanks to Curry when she stepped away from the stage in 2015, and Curry repaid the favour when it was O’Connor’s turn to retire from inter-county camogie in 2021.

“I think Jenny definitely retired too early but she probably had to because where they were moving to probably wasn’t conducive to playing for Cork,” says O’Connor about the talented forward who hails from the Barryroe club in West Cork.

She has so much to offer to the game. She has so much passion for it and I think she’s an exceptional player. She’s exceptionally fit and that was always one of her massive strengths. She has a lower centre of gravity where she’s able to get in around rucks and pick the ball easily.

“She had such a direct route towards goal which I loved. That was one of the key factors in her being a top player; she had one thing on her mind and that was scoring.

“We have massive respect for each other. We knew each other from around Sciath na Scol which was our first introduction. I remember the first time I saw her playing was out in the Barr’s and they beat our school team. I was really impressed even then. And then as we got older, I got to know her. You knew she was going to be a star player for Cork.”

O’Connor spent much of her Cork career playing in the backs. In match situations, when she needed an outlet to clear the ball out of defence, Curry was regularly in O’Connor’s sights.

“She’d be one of the key players that you’d be looking for. There are times as a back when you need to get rid of it, and there’s times when you need to play different players according to where they are on the pitch. But you always have a person that is a key forward and Jenny was one of those. You wanted to hit the ball to her because she had such speed and vision to run into space.

“She had this quick flick of the hurley where she could gather it on the run and she could do that at such pace. A lot of backs found it hard to keep up with her. She just had this vision to go and score and she was always on her toes, trying to create movement.”


Kerry footballer Louise Galvin became an online hit recently when she appeared in a video by Off The Ball’s Aisling O’Reilly after Kerry’s All-Ireland semi-final win over Mayo. She spoke about returning to the inter-county squad after giving birth to her son Florian and the challenges involved in resuming her football after pregnancy. “I don’t know if he’s the first baby to be breastfed in a Croke Park dressing-room but hopefully he won’t be the last,” she said.

louise-galvin Cathal Noonan / INPHO Louise Galvin in action for Kerry. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Curry has seen the video and a lot of what Galvin has experienced so far resonates with her. She has a son Tiernan who will turn one the day after the All-Ireland final on Sunday, while her daughter Lauren is two.

“I could totally relate to the breastfeeding,” she begins. “I was breastfeeding Tiernan until about nine months and there were times when I was trying to feed him and then run out to training. It’s just not that easy when you are breastfeeding because you just don’t know if they’re satisfied.

“So you leave and you have the guilt and all that’s associated with it and there’s times when the kids definitely come first and you just have to be uber organised and uber prepared for anything.

If you don’t have the support at home, that makes it really difficult. My husband and his family have been absolutely brilliant and if there’s any time I needed them, they were there without any hesitation. So, there is definite guilt but at the same time, I hope that in years to come when my little ones are playing themselves, they’ll look back and go, ‘Wow Mom did that.’

“You can do anything if you just put your mind to it and put in the hard work and hopefully I’ll stand as a role model for Lauren when she’s a bit older.

“It just shows that even if you have children or you’ve just come back from pregnancy, you can still keep going. You just have to work a little bit harder and adapt a little bit more.”

Galvin expanded on her experience of balancing her football with the responsibilities of being a new mother in an interview with Sinéad Kissane of the Irish Independent. In it, she mentioned that she found very little information or medical research that she could refer to while re-introducing herself to the sport at that intense level.

Curry considered how her body was responding to the training to understand what she could handle in the aftermath of childbirth. She also spoke to other female athletes who are parents, but was shocked at how some of them reacted to her intention to play inter-county camogie.

She’s [Galvin] so right when she says that because when I was coming back, I didn’t know what I’d be able to do or what I should do. I did use a lot of search engines on the internet just to back me up and tell me I’m not actually mad doing this. There’s always that fear when it comes to the pelvic floor.

“That can control everything you do. I suppose I just asked a lot of women around me who have had babies and are involved in sport, to find out what they did.

“A lot of people would have been nearly putting me off from going back and telling me to take my time and, ‘You shouldn’t do this.’ I was very surprised at that but I suppose they had children when they were younger as well, and they were thinking of me. I’m not a spring chicken and they were trying to look after me.

“But you just have to listen to your body and see what you’re able to do. Go back slowly and don’t go into it full whack because there is a good chance that you will injure yourself. Don’t put any pressure on yourself and it does take a while, and you have to ease into it before you can get back on the pitch.”


Athletes like Galvin and Curry have successfully challenged the misconception that a woman’s time in elite sport ends once they become a mother. While it’s not an easy endeavor, and a strong support network is certainly required to make it work, they are both examples of how the path can be navigated.

gemma-oconnor Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Gemma O'Connor finished up playing with Cork in 2020. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

“Jenny had such a phenomenal level of fitness,” says her former Cork teammate O’Connor, “that she could have gone back and would have been accepted at whatever standard she was at. But, knowing her, I’d say Jenny wanted to be at a level that exceeded the fitness levels of most people. For her to go back even after having kids, her baseline fitness would be above most.

I can only imagine the effort that she put in. Her training regime was probably brutal until she got to that acceptable standard for her. She always wanted to be at nothing less than peak fitness.”

Pucking ball in her new Armagh home has opened Curry up to a whole new series of experiences in her sport. Curry didn’t encounter too many games against Ulster counties during her time hurling for Cork, but has come to appreciate how much camogie is loved in this region.

One of her opponents on the Antrim team even recently talked about how she looked up to Curry during her days as a Cork star. Brónach Magill, whose twin sister Bríd is also on the Antrim squad, said she told Curry about that after the sides met in the group stage of this year’s All-Ireland championship.

“It’s been a learning curve,” says Curry.

“One thing that comes through with every team I’ve been with is that they’re all so passionate about camogie. They’re great supporters of camogie. They’d often tell me about going to All-Ireland finals and you wouldn’t be aware that they’d travelled so far to go to games where Ulster teams might not even be featuring.

“It’s just brilliant to see that passion and dedication that’s going into camogie.”

Eight years on from her last appearance there, Curry has another chance to line out in Croke Park for an All-Ireland final. The team held a media night recently where young fans attended to see their county stars and get hurleys signed ahead of Sunday’s showdown with Antrim.

Curry remembers the first training session when she arrived feeling nervy and awkward about joining a squad that had already formed a bond from the previous season. But those initial jitters faded as soon as the warm-up commenced, and a winning run throughout the championship has ensued. Armagh emerged with just a two-point win when they came up against Antrim in the group stage, which certainly sets the tone for another nail-biter in Croke Park.

“We bought Lauren an Armagh jersey last week and Tiernan already has one, so they’ll be all dressed up and they can’t wait.

“We know we’re going to have a massive battle against Antrim. We’ve played them quite a lot this year. They looked very organised in their semi-final against Clare, and well up for it. 

“We’re really looking forward to the challenge, and there’s a good tradition of camogie in Antrim. Hopefully it’ll be a good spectacle.”

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