Corkery and Buckley sister act gearing up for history-making triumph
Briege Corkery knows she is lucky to have won so much with team-mate Buckley
Cork’s Briege Corkery : “People do ask if we’re not sick of winning. God, you never get sick of that winning feeling. Ever”. Photograph: INPHO/Tommy Grealy
History might beckon as on Sunday she could, with team-mate Rena Buckley, become the most medalled woman in the history of Gaelic games, but Briege Corkery has not time to be thinking about it.
There are 500 cows to be milked at the crack of dawn – and, inconveniently, she’s not “a morning person”.
The alarm erupts around 6am and off she goes to the farm in Crookstown, between Ballincollig and Macroom, wiping the sleep from her eyes.
“But sometimes I’m a bit late,” she confesses. “Although it’s that little bit easier in the summer.”
Having grown up on a family farm between Macroom and Coachford, she is no stranger to the life. So when her boyfriend Diarmuid went into a share milking business with a local farmer and asked her to come on board, “I said, ‘sure, why not?’ I’m just an outdoors girl – anything outside and I’ll chance my arm.”
And you’re not too far from home?
“No, thanks be to God. I couldn’t go too far from home at all,” she laughs.
However, she was never tempted to stay, a home-bird whose passion for camogie and football was always going to have her boarding those return flights.
Now? Twelve hours on the farm, and then into the car and off to training five, six nights a week. Tumbling home exhausted, some sleep, and then that alarm again.
Why do it?
“It’s my life, really. 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 our life.
“You dread training sometimes; if it’s going to be hard, if you’re tired, but you put that to the back of your mind.
“I just always think you’re not going to be playing forever, you’re going to be settled, hopefully, down the road you’ll have children, and that’s when you’re really tied up.
“But for now 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.”
The success helps too. And there’s been so much of it.
Corkery has been known to lose count of the number of All-Ireland winning medals she possesses.
Well, if Cork get the better of Dublin in Sunday’s All-Ireland football final she and Buckley will have amassed 16 each – 10 in football, six in camogie.
The camogie victory over Galway 10 days ago put them level with Kathleen Mills as the most decorated women in GAA history – repeat last year’s triumph over Dublin and they’ll surpass her.
They kind of are at this stage, though, Corkery agreeing that she has seen almost as much of her team-mate as she has her own family over the years.
“We were laughing after the camogie final, ‘ah, it’s down to just three times a week we’ll see each other now in training’, all year it was five or six, what’ll we do without each other?’
“And both of us are very honest with each other. If Rena though I played bad she’d let me know, and that’s what you need to hear. That’s a real friendship.
“We’re so lucky we’ve won a lot together, and that makes it easier to come back every year. You never get tired of winning.
“And people do ask if we’re not sick of winning. God, you never get sick of that winning feeling. Ever.
“We’ve lost a lot of camogie finals, and that’s a feeling you don’t ever want again.”
Who’ll look after the farm on Sunday?
She comes mighty close to confessing “there won’t be a cow milked in Crookstown”.
“Diarmuid will look after them.”
Well, potential history-makers deserve a lie in.