Mary O Connor to reconsider her retirement

Cork’s Mary O’Connor to Reconsider Her Retirement

CORK dual star Mary O’Connor is reviewing her decision to retire from ladies football at inter-county level. At the same time, however, she admits that her continuing playing involvement in camogie could be threatened by a serious knee injury. A member of the  2006 TG4/O’Neills Allstars team, she will be sidelined for Saturday’s exhibition game in Dubai against  the 2007 team, but she will still have an involvement as an assistant to the manager.

From the Inch club in Cork – she once won an under-age medal with a boys’ team which included Joe Deane – she has been out of action since she suffered knee ligament damage in a training session prior to the All-Ireland football final against Mayo. And, while she has no guarantee of being able to resume her career at inter-county level, her hope is to get back to training before the end of March.

“It’s four months down the line and I haven’t run in that time. I have only been in the pool swimming and aqua jogging, keeping some sort of level of fitness up and trying to work on the knee. That was what I was told to do, it’s working to an extent, I can see it getting better but it’s a very slow process. I still have a bit to go, another two months before I can actually do a bit of running,’’ she explains.

While she had been virtually injury-free throughout her career, her luck ran out at a training session on the Thursday night after Cork had been beaten in the All-Ireland camogie final. As she puts it herself, it happened ‘in the middle of a bad week!’

At the time she had indicated that the ladies football final would be her last appearance at inter-county level. “That was what I was thinking, the body is getting old and so on. But you want to leave your sport on your own terms and I felt on that night that it was taken away from me.
“At the moment I just don’t know where I am, I don’t know how the knee is going to respond. I’m going to take my time, but if I felt I could bring something to the (football) team I would definitely try and go again. I’m taking every day as it comes and we’ll see how the knee reacts. I won’t come back mid-season, but as it is I’m going to miss three or four games in the National League any way and the same in camogie. There are only a couple of years you can play inter-county at dual level and I have been at it ten or twelve years now. I’d like to think that if I can get back right again, then maybe I’d give it another go.’’

Reflecting on her career to date, she’s especially grateful for the success she and her team-mates have enjoyed in football. “When I came on the camogie team first we were being successful. We were getting to All-Ireland finals and we won three or four of them, but ladies football was different until the format of championship was changed for the better. Cork and teams like Tipperary and Limerick began to emerge and Cork’s under-age talent came through. When Eamonn Ryan took over, I think that was the final piece in the jig-saw. He is one most diligent coaches you’ll meet, very consistent, some of the lads on Cork would call him one of the best they have ever worked with. He knows the game inside out, he brought us all together and gave us direction. I think that’s why we have been so successful over the last few years.’’

Meanwhile, in her role as development officer with the Camogie Association, she is happy to think that progress is being made. “Unlike ladies football there are some counties where we need to develop because there is no tradition of hurling, not to mind camogie. We are in the early stages of that and the counties are responding. We’re setting up the first county board in Mayo, we have three clubs there and we’re going from strength to strength.

“I hope in a few years time that every girl in the country will get the opportunity to play before they leave primary school. That would be a real positive for the Camogie Association because every girl deserves to play her native sport – be it ladies football or camogie!’’

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