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Dublin: 8°C Friday 16 April 2021

'Cora is something else really' - The duo behind Carnacon's glittering success

Jimmy Corbett and Beatrice Casey have been there from the very start.

JIMMY AND BEATRICE. They’re two names Cora Staunton often mentions in media interviews.

She speaks glowingly of them. With talk of her beloved club Carnacon, remarks of Jimmy Corbett and Beatrice Casey automatically follow suit.

Particularly when discussing her mother’s illness and untimely death when Staunton was just 16 years of age. They were there to guide her through the difficult times.

They’ve always been there.

Beatrice Casey and Jimmy Corbett celebrate at the final whistle Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The club was founded in 1986 by Corbett himself.

“Jimmy’s the long-serving member,” Beatrice smiles.

“I’m there too in a different capacity. We’re on the road a long time.”

She was there for the establishment of the club too, a player at the time. From there, she got involved with coaching and management and never looked back.

Five All-Ireland titles, 16 Connacht crowns, 19 times county champions, and every single one in the senior grade. It’s been some run.

Later today, they face Cork and Munster kingpins for the last three consecutive years Mourneabbey, as they bid to get their hands on the Dolores Tyrrell Memorial Cup for the sixth time.

“It’s great to be back in a final,” Jimmy begins.

“At the start of the year it was difficult when the county players were going well. We hadn’t many matches. After losing the All-Ireland (final with Mayo), it’s very difficult to come back and play in club championship the following Sunday.

“But that brings them on so much as well. After losing that, and every year, the club is there for them. They seem to grow as it carries on.

“They found it difficult themselves, it was very hard to get up again and to go out on the field. But they did it and started believing in themselves again, that we’d give another shot at the club All-Ireland.

“They’ve done that. You can’t ask no more from them.”

He’s has said it in the past, over and over. He’s amazed by his players. He doesn’t know how they do it, how they keep coming back year in, year out.

Their commitment, dedication and love for the club is on another level.

“It’s very hard to put your finger on it,” he continues.

“I don’t know what it is, I don’t know. Probably the success. If you have success you keep coming back.

“I think Michelle McGing is there since around Cora’s time, Martha (Carter), Michelle Higgins, there’s four or five that have been there for the last I’d say 17, 18, 19 years.

Cora Staunton and manager Beatric Casey Cora Staunton and Casey embrace at the final whistle of the 2007 All-Ireland senior club final. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“The senior players, their attitude and their commitment and dedication to their club outside of county is 100%.”

And himself?

“I’ve been around them a long time, too long now!” he grins, sitting happily in Croke Park on Tuesday. ”After Sunday, there’ll be a big decision to make.”

But he brings the conversation back to the players themselves.

“I’ve been with Cora and Michelle McGing, Martha Carter and Claire Egan. There’s so many players that have been around 17, 18, maybe 20 years, the same as ourselves — too long! They keep coming back every year.

“The likes of Cora is something else really, something else. In the dressing room, you won’t have much to say or do much, they’d be giving out more than ourselves.

“It’s great for the young players that come in, to have such a bond built with the senior players. The senior players look after them so well, they’re absolutely brilliant. You’d want to be there to see it.”

Jimmy and Beattrice speak as glowingly of Cora as she does of them.

Her big venture Down Under rolls around in conversation, and it’s clear as day that they’re both bursting with pride.

There’s hardly need for a reminder at this stage, but Staunton signed a professional contract with AFLW side Greater Western Sydney Giants in October.

She’s made it fairly clear that her focus remains on club until their campaign ends, with her flight to Sydney booked for Tuesday night.

“It couldn’t have come to a better person, a better athlete and a better ambassador for Ladies football than Cora,” Beatrice continues, beaming from ear to ear.

“In the back of her mind she has Australia, but to the forefront it’s the club final, the next day. We said we’re not going to leave any room for a replay!

“It’s huge and I think it’s going to be huge for Ladies football and for girls going forward. That door is open and it’s not just confined to men, that the Ladies are here and they’re here to stay.

Jimmy Corbett Jimmy Corbett. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“We’re on the map just as much as the men are and Cora has carved out that path now. I think she’ll be a huge success over there and it will open the door and the gates for anyone that wants to follow that path and that career.

“We’re hugely, hugely proud of her.”

“It’d be lovely to get out and see her play out there,” she says, when asked if there’s any scope for a visit.

“The girls will all be following her live and that. It’s a long way away but social media and everything, it’s like the back garden. We’re looking forward to seeing her and talking to her on Skype and what not.”

Staunton’s contract ends in mid-April and from there, the rest is undecided.

Upon her return to home soil, she’d be able to line out for Mayo in the tail end of the league and then straight into championship.

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But the 35-year-old is staying tight-lipped on that front. Physically, she’s unsure of what shape she’ll be in coming home.

With club though, there’s no decisions to be made or questions to be answered, Beatrice insists.

“I know Cora, she never has that decision in her mind to make,” she continues.

“Club has always been her love, her passion. She’ll be back no doubt in Mayo next year, as she says herself, while her body keeps going, Cora’ll keep playing.

“There’s never any issues as to where her commitment lies. The dedication she gives to Carnacon and to Mayo and to Ladies football in general. That’s not up for discussion!”

Jimmy echoes her words: “Four months gone away, we wish her the best and we’d like to see her coming back again in four months time and she’ll be committed to the club.”

But all eyes are on the big one today first.

It’s the first time Carnacon and Mourneabbey will go head-to-head so there’s an element of the unknown.

After back-to-back final losses in 2014 and 2015, and a semi-final exit at the hand of eventual champions Donaghmoyne last year, Mourneabbey will be gunning for this.

Fourth time lucky is becoming a mantra of sorts on Leeside.

On the other hand, Carnacon have gotten over the line five times before. In their first decider appearance since their 2013 win, they’re the bookies favourites to take the title back to the West for the winter.

“It’ll be a difficult game,” Jimmy says. “It should be a great game. We’ll be looking forward to it and so will they. They’ll be up for it.”

Cora Staunton Staunton at the launch in Croke Park on Tuesday. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

His trusted comrade Beatrice adds: “Any team that comes out of Cork and comes out of Munster will be tough.

“We’ve had plenty of battles down through the years with the likes of the Donoughmores and Inch Rovers and that. Mourneabbey are going to pose a different challenge to us, a team we haven’t played.

“On a positive note, we may be able to play our own game a bit more, we’re hoping that that’ll be the case. Times in the past you would have had history with other teams and you would have known more about them and their style of play.

“We’re looking forward to a good, open game of football. I hope both teams serve up a good game to supporters, especially all our fans that are coming.

“Our U10s and U12s are coming up. They’re hugely excited. They got to play in the semi-final in Tyrone which was a huge boost for the girls and the club, so they’re really looking forward to it.”

And Cora on the day, before the ball is thrown in? She’ll be committed in the dressing room, Jimmy says. A word that keeps coming up.

And then the grin. ”She’ll be giving out, it wouldn’t be right if she wasn’t giving out! We’ll take a back seat for a few minutes…. ”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Emma Duffy

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