Buckley just can't stop that winning feeling
SPORTSWOMAN OF THE MONTH:“It’s an awful place to lose,” Rena Buckley had said of Croke Park in the week before Cork’s All-Ireland football final against Kerry, but come Sunday she and her county had stretched their remarkable unbeaten record at the stadium, winning their seventh title in seven appearances since 2005.
The Cork captain, then, has never experienced that losing feeling on football final day, but the month before she and fellow dual player Briege Corkery had been on the team that was beaten by Wexford in one of the finest camogie finals in recent memory.
It still hurt three weeks on, but the pair, despite the unimaginable pressures it put on their time and energies through the year, were relieved to be dual players so they had a chance to finish their intercounty season with that winning feeling.
And they did too, in some style, beating their Munster neighbours, making their first appearance in the final since 1993, with relative ease, 0-16 to 0-7. They dominated the game from start to finish, leading by 10 points to three at half-time, Valerie Mulcahy, not for the first time, top-scoring for Cork with seven points.
The victory meant that 11 of the starting line-up, including Buckley, collected their seventh All-Ireland medal in eight years (she also has four camogie medals), their run only interrupted at the quarter-final stage in 2010 when they were beaten by Tyrone. Manager Eamonn Ryan described that setback as merely “a pebble in our shoe”, but still, having seen their domination of the women’s game end, there were questions about whether they would have the hunger to come again.
“We got ourselves back on the horse,” said Buckley, “we felt we let ourselves down against Tyrone. You can’t just keep on winning forever, so every time you get an opportunity you try to capitalise on it.”
She, then, like so many of her team-mates, stuck with it, helping Cork regain their crown against Monaghan last year, before retaining it against Kerry.
Buckley was one of seven Cork players to be named in the 2012 All Star team – Elaine Harte, Bríd Stack, Corkery, Geraldine O’Flynn, Ciara O’Sullivan and Mulcahy the others – her reward for another outstanding year in the Cork half back line.
Any one of that group could have been our sportswoman of the month, but we have gone for the captain as a representative of a quite marvellous team.
(This year’s awards cover December 2011 to November 2012):
December: Fionnuala Britton (Athletics)
January: Jessica Kuerten (Equestrian)
February: Fiona Coghlan (Rugby)
March: Audrey O’Flynn (Hockey)
April: Katie Walsh (horse racing)
May: Katie Taylor (Boxing)
June: Stephanie Meadow (Golf)
July: Annalise Murphy (Sailing)
August: Bethany Firth (Swimming)
September: Ursula Jacob (Camogie)