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Dublin: 11°C Thursday 15 April 2021

5-time All-Ireland winner turned down athletics scholarship in Kentucky to play for Cork

Orlagh Farmer is part of the Cork side gearing up for Saturday’s Lidl Ladies Football league final.

Cork player Orlagh Farmer.
Cork player Orlagh Farmer.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

CORK STAR ORLAGH Farmer has revealed that she turned down the potential offer of an athletics scholarship in the United States to become a senior county player.

Farmer, 23, was a talented cross-country athlete and after completing her Leaving Certificate, she became aware of interest from across the Atlantic in her talent.

The Midleton forward revealed: “I would have been big into cross-country and there was talk of a scholarship to America, to Kentucky.

“I didn’t follow through with it although I did meet up with people to talk about it.

“There was an option but in my gut, I wanted to stay for the love of playing with my friends and with Cork.

“I did like the idea of going to America and I was late enough starting football, at 12 years of age, but I knew since then that this was the sport for me.”

Cork are certainly glad that Farmer stuck around and since linking up with the senior panel as a 5th year student in 2010, she’s won five All-Ireland senior titles and four Lidl Division 1 League crowns.

Farmer is also an O’Connor Cup medallist from 2012 with UCC but her first season at senior inter-county level ended in disappointment, when Cork suffered a rare championship defeat against Tyrone in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

She recalled: “I was only new to the panel and it was a big experience for me.

“I just remember looking around the team after and there was just silence, it was awful.

“I don’t think they ever wanted to feel like that every again, that’s the feeling I got from it.

“Even Eamonn (Ryan) was silent in the dressing room. It was my first year on it and it would have meant a lot more to the older girls but it was frightening, really.

“They wouldn’t let that happen again, it was a tipping point for them.”

Eamon Ryan with Shane Ronayne Former Cork ladies manager Eamonn Ryan Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Since then, Cork have reeled off five successive All-Ireland senior titles and victory over Mayo at Parnell Park on Saturday evening would secure a fourth successive Lidl Division 1 League crown.

Farmer had to work hard for a regular starting place but still takes nothing for granted.

She added: “It’s just so competitive, even in terms of injuries and things like that.

“There are always girls that can come in and it’s hard to get your place in that sense.

“But I’m going well enough now and it’s open to anyone driving on at training.

“We’re always trying to impress and get that little bit extra out of ourselves but it’s a team sport and any bit that you can contribute for the team is the main thing.”

For Cork, the Mayo game is ideal preparation for their TG4 Munster championship opener against Waterford on Sunday week.

They will begin the campaign without retired 10-time All-Ireland medallist Valerie Mulcahy, who will be remembered as one of the finest players ever to grace the ladies game.

Valerie Mulcahy Cork player Valerie Mulcahy Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

And Farmer will never forget how Mulcahy made her feel welcome when she first joined the panel.

She explained: “I really looked up to her when I was younger. My first training session was up in Watergrasshill, I was with her in a drill and I couldn’t believe that I was training with one of my childhood heroes.

“She was tapping me on the back and driving me on. She was outstanding with a great attitude, skill and huge commitment.

“She was there before training taking her shots and would stay back afterwards for more.

“I was lucky to play with her at UCC as well.”

Off the pitch, Farmer is a PE and Irish teacher who’s also studying for a PhD at UCC.

Farmer’s looking at a physical activity sports intervention, aimed at getting more girls to participate through Ladies football.

And she explained: “It’s the fastest growing sport in Ireland but there’s a drop-out rate and girls tend to stop. I’m investigating the barriers and what motivates them. It’s very interesting and will hopefully be a success.”

And she joked: “At the end of it, I’ll be a teacher, hopefully a Doctor and a Farmer, with no land!”

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About the author:

Jackie Cahill

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