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Jennifer picked on Cork dream team

14 May, 2020

Evening Echo 13th May 2020 by Linda Mellerick and Mary Newman

Cork dream team: We pick 15 of the best players in last 40 years of Rebel camogie

AFTER much deliberation this is what we decided upon as our final 15 Cork camogie players in our best of the last 40 years selection.

In goal, selecting between Marian McCarthy and Aoife Murray was tough. In the finish Aoife shades, it. She has been truly amazing in the number one jersey. Her bravery, athleticism and leadership set her apart.

Rena Buckley holds down the right corner-back position. Clever and smart Rena read the play, took stock of her opponents and remained patient, timing her tackles to perfection.

Eithne Duggan is named at full-back. Every time you thought you were away ready to do damage, Eithne’s flick would come in and dispossess. A steady, dependable, no frills full-back who was a wall in front of goal.

Killeagh’s Cathy Landers takes the left half-back position. One of the toughest opponents you could meet. I remember one night at training in my first year on the Cork senior panel we clashed for a ball. I went about three feet up into the air, swivelled and landed on my backside thinking I had got hit by a train. Captained Cork to All-Ireland glory in 1983, winning her fourth medal.

Sandy Fitzgibbon produced some memorable displays summed superbly by Brendan Larkin at the time...“Despite the atrocious underfoot conditions and the miserable wind and rain Sandie Fitzgibbon glided effortlessly across the mud splattered Field like Torville and Deane as she turned in a match winning performance.”

We had great centre-back nominees, but one player stood tall. Gemma O’Connor is a brilliant defender and a true leader, consistently breaking up attacks, winning possession and dazzlingly distributing. A vital cog in Cork’s wheel for 17 years.

At left half-back is the speedy Denise Cronin. What a versatile player to have in your side. The opposition could have five yards on her, and she’d catch them. Her dashes up field were a joy and her goal as captain in the 1995 All-Ireland final turned the tide.

(Mary Newman takes over here:) 

Picking Linda Mellerick for one of the midfield berths was a no-brainer for me and was a player the sports editor insisted had to be in the team even, though she was involved in picking the team.  One of four Cork players selected on the camogie ‘Team of the Century’ in 2004, Linda had a unique style. What a pity players in her day didn’t wear a GPS because she covered every blade of grass. Her reddish/blonde hair stood out a mile as she weaved her magic, always in the thick of the action she left markers for dead.

Picking two midfielders was the most difficult of all. We went with Orla Cotter to partner Linda. Her consistent top-drawer performances for Cork over the years with her rangy style, her coolness under pressure and undeniable mental strength with frees from difficult angles in high pressure games, sees her take the position.

Colette O’Mahony is selected at right half-forward. Another whose free-taking saved Cork on many a day. Extremely skilful with a hard-working ethic Colette was a constant in every team sheet.

At centre-forward is Fiona O’Driscoll. Her ability to read the game and find open space was brilliant. A top-class hurler, her 3-2 in the 2002 All-Ireland final victory will live long in the memory.

At left wing-forward is Cork’s third member of the Team of the Century, Pat Moloney. Full-back Marie Costine was Cork’s fourth player selected, but falls just outside this category having played her final year with Cork in 1979. Pat’s speed, skill and wonderful style are legendary, confidently taking on defences.

You could not take your eyes off Lynn Dunlea in the right corner for a second as she was lethal in possession and produced goals from nothing. Hugely skilful, she was also a proficient free-taker.

Those who were lucky enough to watch Mary O’Leary play saw craft, skill and ability to produce magic in the blink of an eye. She had a great brain with a magnificent strike off her left-hand.

Jennifer O’Leary – The lightning space and nifty play of the small in stature Jennifer O’Leary was a joy to watch. You held your breath with anticipation once Jenny had the ball. She retired in 2015 with four All-Ireland titles and eight All-Star awards having missed two seasons in 2008/2009 while travelling in Australia. She scored 2-38 in the 2011 championship.

Manager of the team: This was a toss up between Paudie Murray and Tom Nott. Certainly, Paudie has brought camogie to a new level, such is the times we live in. Before that, without the props we have today, Tom Nott was a fantastic man to analyse and read a game. An incredible motivator he was manager of many Cork successful teams in the late 70s / early 80s and returned in 1995 to guide Cork to another three All-Ireland titles. Tom Nott is our manager of this selection.

Cork camogie dream team: Aoife Murray; Rena Buckley, Eithne Duggan, Cathy Landers; Sandy Fitzgibbon, Gemma O’Connor, Denise Cronin; Linda Mellerick, Orla Cotter; Colette O’Mahony, Fiona O’Driscoll, Pat Moloney; Lynn Dunlea, Mary O’Leary, Jennifer O’Leary.

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