Cork’s Ashling Thomspon: ‘I coudn’t remember my speech’

Cork captain admits she was little concussed after winning All-Ireland camogie final

Ashling Thompson remembers nothing of her All-Ireland final speech. After lifting the cup as Cork captain, she proceeded to ramble for a few minutes on the steps of the Hogan Stand. She left things out and got names wrong and apologised at one point for losing her thread, saying she was “a small bit concussed”. A collision a couple of minutes from full-time had left her dazed and she only knows now how the speech went from watching it back afterwards.

"I remember walking up the steps but can't remember saying what I said. But looking back on it now, my God, I would give that speech a solid two. It was terrible. I'm glad that I mentioned that I was slightly concussed because it was that bad. I actually called our fitness coach Kevin Mulcahy 'Kevin Murray'. I didn't even thank my club or anything."

After the match, the team moved on with their celebrations with their captain front and centre. She laughs about it now – “I didn’t have time to think [about getting checked out], sure I was concussed from the alcohol” – but in a climate where all sports are starting to take concussion seriously, it doesn’t say anything good for camogie that nobody thought to put her through protocols after she’d announced it on live television.

Straight to the pub

“A few of the girls asked me alright was I okay, but I always say, ‘Yeah, I’m grand’ so no, I don’t think I said anything. I could have said it but I suppose everyone just wanted to get out and go straight to the pub.


“I was standing up and I was fine and my eyes were open so to them it was probably, ‘Ah she’s grand’. I didn’t and I probably should have. I get desperate belts and it’s nearly always to the head and it’s always head first. I’m used to it, it’s not an excuse, but I’m used to it.

“I was a bit dazed and my talking – I didn’t really know what I was saying when I was talking and I was thinking really hard of what I was going to say. Other than that, I had a bit of a headache actually but after a few hours it passed.”

Thompson was in Dublin yesterday promoting the club championships for AIB. As often happens when a sponsor brings along a mix of the sexes, she was more open and interesting than either James O’Donoghue or Pádraic Maher. The Cork county final is on Sunday and should her club Milford win for a second year in a row, she will in all likelihood be Cork captain again next year.

Thompson wasn’t making a big deal of her concussion – the gathered press were more interested in it than she was – but she knows it goes with the territory. She is better known now since winning the All-Ireland and talking openly about mental health issues. Her troubles have been documented plenty of times and she thinks that maybe it wouldn’t be as easy for a male athlete of her profile to do the same.

Probably cried

“I suppose because ladies have a lot of feelings – I’m not afraid to show it as well. I’d say every time I’ve spoken to the girls this year, I’ve probably cried. I can’t help it, because I’d be sitting there, ‘Oh my God, shut up now, don’t cry please.’ And then I’d talk and I just can’t help it, I get so emotional because it means so much to me and I know it means just so much to them.

“But, yeah, I think it’s a lot harder for men to open up because they don’t want to be seen as weak. Some people might think that. I know I thought that before as well. I can’t let that side of me out because people are going to think I’m in awful form, or all of a sudden weak to people, and that’s what you think.”

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times