Amy Lee and Cork straining every sinew to get back to the top

Rebel County aiming for Munster silverware before they commence their All-Ireland bid

Cork haven’t won a senior camogie All-Ireland title since 2018.

They haven’t beaten the side that saw them off in last year’s final, Galway, in a major league or championship match since 2019. They threatened to do so in the recent league final before being stunned by a second-half comeback.

Between 2014-2018, Cork had won four out of five All-Irelands. Given that history, they’d be forgiven for having a mental hang-up about both the sport’s main prize and falling to Galway on a number of occasions since then.

Cork captain and goalkeeper Amy Lee doesn't see the drought as a hindrance, but rather embraces the challenge of overcoming their bogey team.


“I suppose you could say it’s a small bit mental,” she concedes when asked about the effects of recent history against Galway. “They do have a massive panel and you have to give them a small bit of respect for that. They do have a great panel of players, a great bench to bring on.

“It’s hard to pinpoint if the challenge is mental or not but I don’t think it is fully. Maybe it’s a small part but it’s not the main part of not beating them.

“Everyone’s well aware we haven’t won an All-Ireland since 2018. There’s no need for anyone to highlight it within the team, it hasn’t been brought up. As a team we’ve taken every year individually and every game game-by-game to try and reach the ultimate goal of going up the steps.”

April’s league final was a particularly difficult one to take, given how a Cork lead slipped away. It’s apt that Lee mentions the Galway bench since it was the replacements that came on and saw the Tribeswomen overcome a six-point deficit in the second half, Sabina Rabbitte notching a late insurance point for a final score of 1-13 2-14.

If there was a mental block for this Cork side when playing Galway, now would be the time when it’s at its most debilitating. That’s where the services of Davy Fitzgerald could well come in handy. On the pitch, the Clare man clearly has lots to offer to the development of this Cork side as he enters his first All-Ireland campaign within the backroom staff, but Lee acknowledges that his words off the field after that defeat were just as important.

“The chat afterwards was he was very proud of the work we’ve done over the last three or four months, being able to bring what we’ve been doing in training to the match. Everyone was a small bit disappointed afterwards, playing so well in the first half, but he’s done very well now to get us to hold onto that feeling, use how we felt to drive us on for the next few games.

Great relationship

“All of us have a great relationship with him. He brings so much to the table, he has a winning mentality and he brings that to the team. His knowledge of the game, as a goalie and as a coach, is massive and we all get on very well with him, all have the craic with him, all take him very serious; it’s great to have him on board.”

Lee’s latter comments confirm that Fitzgerald’s sending off during a league game against his native Clare earlier this season has not overly perturbed the panel. Cork’s next task comes in the Munster final on Saturday against Clare once again, just in case we needed any extra storylines.

Cork are strong favourites to take home some silverware before they head into their All-Ireland campaign the following weekend against Wexford.

“We’ll go in and hopefully come out in the win,” says Lee. “We’ll be playing Clare again in the championship so I presume neither team will be wanting to show their full deck going into the weekend.

“It’ll be great to get a bit of silverware heading into the first round of the championship next week against Wexford, give us a bit of buzz about ourselves. It’s the first championship game since we played Waterford in Munster a few weeks ago so it will be a good baseline for us to start as we mean to go on into the All-Ireland.”

As for Lee personally, having only replaced Aoife Murray as Cork’s number one in 2020, being awarded the captaincy so early on in her intercounty career was clearly a proud moment. Despite the honour, she doesn’t actually see her role in helping to end the title drought as all that different now given all the other leaders in that dressing room.

“It’s unbelievable, it’s been a great honour, I absolutely love it. There’s no pressure on me as captain though, all I can do is my job in goal, lead from the back and everything else is taken from the girls. It’s unbelievable but I don’t think too much into it. Keep it simple.

“It’s very obvious we do have great leaders on the team already. Captaincy, it is a big deal obviously to captain your county but in terms of what you have to do, we have so many leaders, so many people that can step in, that can speak.

“I don’t say much, only speak when I need to. We have loads of girls who fill in gaps, Laura Tracy, Aisling Thomspon, we’ve Laura Hayes that will speak up, Amy O’Connor. We’ve a number of players who will speak up and let us know it’s not the mental side of the game or let us know it’s not our hurling, it’s not just me passing on the message, it’s a number of us as well as Davy and all the lads we have involved.” Amy Lee was speaking at the launch of the 2022 Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Camogie Championships