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'Everyone knows Rena is a legend' - A 21st national title for Cork great Buckley

Complete and utter class.

HER 21ST NATIONAL title, but perhaps the sweetest one of all. 

A 21st championship one across club and county that is — 11 All-Ireland senior crowns with the Cork footballers, seven with the camógs, two senior and now one junior with Donoughmore. Then there’s also 11 football league honours, three with the camogie, and two college titles. Insane.

Rena Buckley was the star of the show for her club Donoughmore yesterday as they were crowned All-Ireland junior champions. 

Cool, calm and collected as ever, the legendary Cork dual star accounted for 0-7 of her side’s 1-12 as they edged out Mayo kingpins CL McHale Rovers by the minimum after extra-time. It was an epic battle in Ballinsaloe, and one in which Buckley made her impact felt from start to finish. 

“Everyone knows Rena is a legend,” as manager Donal Dineen said of the Player of the Match afterwards.

She is a fantastic role model for the younger girls. You would see her in the car park coaching them after training. That is the type of player and person she is.

Yesterday marked the end of an unforgettable 2019 for this rising Donoughmore side.

Years ago, they were a ladies football powerhouse — winning All-Ireland senior titles in 2001 and 2003, and reaching deciders in 2004 and 2009 — but in 2017, they couldn’t field a team. 

“We have a team again, that’s hugely important to me,” Buckley noted ahead of the showdown, while her captain Eileen Lyons echoed her words. “If we capped it off with a win it would be very, very sweet.”

How sweet it must have been.

What a revival.

“Ah look, it’s very, very special,” Buckley herself, an 18-time All-Ireland senior inter-county football and camogie champion, told Jerome Quinn afterwards. 

Source: LadiesFootballTV/YouTube

“Donoughmore have a very strong and proud history of ladies football. Over the last couple of years we probably slipped back a little bit, and to now come back with a junior team… I suppose the most important thing is for the girls to really buy in and give it their all, and to play football for Donoughmore.

“That’s the most satisfying thing. With that came success in the games. To get all the way to today and to get over the line by the skin of our teeth, Jesus, it’s been an outstanding year.”

The 32-year-old, who also still stars for her camogie club Iniscarra, later added in the interview:

Everybody loves the top level sport but club stuff, it’s raw, it’s emotional, we love it. It’s fantastic to be a part of it.

“It’s outstanding. It’s fantastic for Ladies Football, it’s fantastic for women’s sport, and it’s great for sport. Sport is brilliant!”

- With reporting from Daragh Small and Jerome Quinn for the Ladies Gaelic Football Association

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Emma Duffy

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