Laura Tracy staring into the distance, a deadly serious and contemplative look on her face, is the epitome of a woman in her athletic prime and not to be messed with.
He is to the left of Amy O’Connor and Amy Lee, both equally enchanted by something in the distance and contemplating quantum mechanics or the meaning of life.
The scene is in a promotional photo shoot to mark the announcement of Carey’s Motor Group as sponsors of the Cork Camogee and the resulting snap is mounted on the van of manager, Matthew Tomei, now parked on the side of the pitch at County Ground in Blackrock. Is.
“I’d say Matthew stares every day driving The Link [South Link Road], You have no fear of not finding it anyway!”
The increased visibility is a positive and one of many things that have changed since Cork came into the squad a decade ago. One of the most significant changes is a different manager for the first time, although Tomy is an acquaintance in the set-up.
The coach, Davy Fitzgerald is very new and his appointment made all the headlines. 12 months after a three-point loss to Galway, he is well settled again, helping the Rebels to the All-Ireland final.
But there is no Puddy Murray, who introduced him to the team in his first season as manager in 2012, nor his brother Kevin, a respected coach.
“Powdie Murray turned me in, when I think back, 16 years old that year. I had two years in minors so I ended up playing minor that year and another one to play minor again. years. It feels like a full lifetime ago. It’s now my 11th season so it’s bizarre.
“There was a little change this year. Davey came in, Matthew went to the manager but there are still too many similar faces. Teddy [Donovan]is still here, nilsar’s [Niall Collins] Still about, Matthew is clearly here. It feels like a bit of a continuation but a bit of freshness at the same time.
While the dual All-Star and four-time All-Ireland champ owes so much to Murray, the Kileigh defender remains adamant that the St. Finbar man’s take on Camogee’s game in terms of raising standards and elevating the elite atmosphere. equal debt. performance one. He also expanded the tactical palette which was very conservative, while the rest of the Gaelic code had moved on.
“We have learned a lot from Pauri Murray. I give high, top credit to Paddy Murray for bringing that into the game, I personally think. Camogie in general over the past ten years. He raised that standard himself, brought us up with it and then the other teams had to follow it.
“Galvez and Kilkenny were always with us. I would give so much credit to Paudy. He was phenomenal as a manager. His previous team was always A1. He got the best of the best. His brother Kevin Murray [as coach]What we learned from him was incredible.
“But people move on, they get new jobs and new people always step in and new voices are always good.”
He’s an ‘all’ one now.
“How did this happened?” She exhales, disfiguring her face in fake horror. “I’d say Ashling [Thompson] Still five years older than me so she can have that record.”
To be fair, Tracy will only be 27 at the end of this year, but that’s nothing she hasn’t seen. The fear of youth is gone. But she can bring that gentle helping hand or the words that old-fashioned legends bestowed upon her.
“I think I have a lot of experience at this point, especially watching young people come, like Mebh Murphy, who is bones 18, 19. This year’s minor Orlaith Kahlane. I remember when I was at that age. It was coming. This time was a long time ago.
“It’s completely different. My first All Ireland in 2014, I was 18 and 19 and I was a Babog. I was very small, light in stature, but I was given a job. I remember Well, that year Matthew Tomei was involved and for the semi-finals and final, I remember Matthew and Paudy talking to me.
“I especially remember marking Ursula Jacob in the semi-finals at Thurles. He told me, ‘Ursula Jacob usually gets x amount of assets in a game,’ – I think it was seven or eight –’ But she scores from them. If you can count it out of seven or eight; you turn her once, you only have seven more. You spin her again, then you block her, now only five There are more.’
“Now, I’m taking care of myself and I’m focusing on what’s leading up to the big games, but also making sure the girls around me are okay. Because, Gemma O’ Connor, Aoife Murray, Orla Couture, those girlie picks always looked after me when I was that age. If I was on the ball, I’d always be there on the pitch as a substitute for me. So I’m there for the little girls too I’m trying to do that.”
After coming on as corner-back with the current chiseled frame yet to be carved, Tracy moved to full-back when Anna Gerry retired. The centre-back was always her natural habitat and she is now the reigning All-Star at absolute position.
“I was at full-back longer than I expected. I never expected to play full-back for the Cork senior camogie team and obviously I would wear a Cork jersey to play anywhere but the centre-back was full-back. Kind of different.
“It feels like you’re more involved in the game and connecting with the players a little bit more and there’s probably a little more to go on. That’s why I’m enjoying the centre-back.”
She doesn’t promise raking points come on Gemma O’Connor is happy to retain her role as a defensive anchor and supply the likes of Katrina McKay, Sorcha McCartan, Amy O’Connor and others,
Kilkenny was in opposition in his first All-Ireland in 2014. Only McKay and Ashling Thompson remain on the Cork team, although Joan Casey is involved in intermediate and the player she came in at the time of injury was the legendary Jenny Curry. [née O’Leary] Premier Junior is back for Armagh in the finals.
Claire Phelan, Denise Gaul, Katie Powers and Miriam Walsh are left for the Cats, while Emma Kavanaugh and Leanne Fenelli are still on the panel. They know each other well.
“Thinking about All-Irelands, even when they beat us in 2016, they still have a lot of players and we do the same. So we’re used to each other.
“We know what the Kilkenny bring. They bring that perfect dogfight. They’re serious hunters. They won’t let you move easily and they work really hard on simple things. That’s a big question for us.” Which I guess but we if we have any chance to win this game.
“All year we’ve been battling with injuries, through injury and stuff like players like Orla Cronin lost, so we had to struggle a lot and dig deep to win games. That character is there.
“We showed up again against Waterford, but if we can’t show that character for the full 60 minutes or so, we won’t come out with a win.”