Cork’s Rena Buckley and Briege Corkery continue to blaze record trail

An unparalleled record of achievement, their longevity is as startling as their success.

Cork’s Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley: have won ten All-Ireland football medals and six All-Ireland camogie medals each. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Cork’s Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley: have won ten All-Ireland football medals and six All-Ireland camogie medals each. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

For anyone who has browsed through the history of Irish women in sport through the years, a name that always stood out was that of Kathleen Mills, her remarkable 15 All-Ireland camogie medals for Dublin, between 1942 and 1961, a record that seemed unbreakable. Until Rena Buckley and Briege Corkery came along, that is.

On the second Sunday in September, the pair equalled Mills’ medal tally when they helped Cork to victory over Galway in the camogie final, and a fortnight later they went to the top of the list when their county’s defeat of Dublin gave them a five-in-a-row and their 10th title in 11 years.

That, then, brought Buckley and Corkery’s collection to 10 All-Ireland football medals (a feat matched by Geraldine O’Flynn, Deirdre O’Reilly, Bríd Stack and Valerie Mulcahy) and six camogie. That’s not even mentioning their National League successes with Cork, and the number of All-Star awards they have amassed – over 20 between them. The pair have been nominated again for both the 2015 camogie and football awards.

It’s an unparalleled record of achievement. Such are the demands on today’s dual players, clashing fixtures not helping Buckley and Corkery this year, the training and match schedules hectic, their longevity is as startling as their success. Buckley also has to find time for her physiotherapy career in Ballincollig and Macroom, while Corkery is up, literally, at the crack of dawn to work on a dairy farm in Crookstown. And then there are their club commitments too.

Both players, though repeatedly insist they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s my life, really,” said Corkery. “And I couldn’t imagine life without it. It’s where all my friends are. I’ve been playing with a lot of the girls since we were 12. Some friends meet up for a cup of coffee, a pint, or whatever; we meet up at training. It’s where I go to meet my friends. We don’t know any better. It’s about having the craic with your friends, that’s what I enjoy about it. And there’s nothing like a match at the end of the week.”

At this stage the pair almost regard each other as sisters, “we’ve been together since we were really young and that’s a long time ago,” said Corkery.

Still they are both just 28, a whole 10 years younger than Mills when she won her 15th All-Ireland medal. There might be another chapter or two in their stories just yet.

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