Saturday 24 September 2016

'Supermum' chasing glory just eight months after new arrival

Published 12/09/2015 | 02:30

Kildare camogie midfielder Orla Bambury with eight-month-old son Conor and pet dog ‘Sam’ at the family home
Kildare camogie midfielder Orla Bambury with eight-month-old son Conor and pet dog ‘Sam’ at the family home

It is the Irish equivalent of what Jessica Ennis-Hill did recently, even though modest Kildare midfielder Orla Bambury insists on making light of it.

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Most people were awestruck to see Britain's Olympic heptathlon champion Ennis back winning the world title just 13 months after having her first child.

Bambury has made an even quicker return to the pinnacle of her sport after becoming a mother in January - and hers is camogie, which involves much more physical contact.

Little Conor, who was only eight months old last Wednesday, is already an active toddler and no wonder given how quickly his mum got back into the thick of action.

She hasn't missed a championship game for the Lilies this summer and will be a key player when they take on Waterford in tomorrow's Liberty Insurance All-Ireland intermediate camogie final.

"I took 13 weeks off," she explains, omitting the 'just' that most of us would automatically add.

"I missed all of the league, the girls lost the semi-final on the Sunday and I was back in the following Wednesday night."

So baby in January, back training in mid-April - was that always the plan?

"Not really but I started to get a bit of cabin fever after around 10 weeks when the evenings were getting longer," Bambury reveals.

"I went to the hurling wall once or twice on my own first and felt okay. Then I went to the club (Clane) and felt grand, so I said 'right, I'll go back in!'

"I was minding myself at the start and the girls, in fairness, were great. Nobody was really tackling me, they knew I was a bit delicate. They were nearly giving out to anyone who came in hard on me!" she laughs.

Bambury reckons she was back up to game speed within six weeks, which is remarkable but perhaps not surprising given that she is a PE teacher (in Borris VS) and played right up to the third month of her pregnancy.

She has a particularly supportive husband as she is married to Stephen Dormer, the Kildare team manager who describes her, with some understatement, as "very determined".

Yet becoming parents and being involved with the same team created some unique problems for the couple, which they solved with a dramatic move.

They live in Paulstown, Co Kilkenny but given the demands of parenthood and training, upped sticks temporarily for the summer and rented a house in Clane.

"If I was going to get back playing I felt I had to move up and be near for training," explains Bambury.

"I was able to because I'm still off work until early October, though the girls reckon it's more like 'camogie leave' rather than maternity leave."

Her mother Phyllis, herself a three-time All-Ireland junior winner with Kildare, has been a huge support as first-choice babysitter.

"She has Conor whenever we're training," Bambury explains as Stephen quips that their emergency back-up childminder is "whoever is on the sideline injured at the time!"

He is particularly well placed to appreciate his wife's dedication, as his sister Colette is a Kilkenny player and he coached their U-16s for five years before taking over the Kildare reins three seasons ago.

Bambury (32) has played for Kildare for 16 years and has seen good and bad times, like the summer of 2007 when they couldn't even round up enough players to field a championship team.

Since then they have made phenomenal progress, winning All-Ireland titles in 2010 (Junior A) and 2013 (Premier Junior) and now they're just one game away from a third crown in six years.

Renaissance

Bambury says Kildare's camogie renaissance is down to a bunch of very committed players.

"There's an awful lot of talent here at the moment and we have managed to keep it all together," she says.

"Susie O'Carroll is a great captain and everyone knows there is something special about this team and that we have to achieve as much as we possibly can when we have this time in our lives."

Conor's arrival means having a spare minute is rare these days but Kildare's 'Supermum' wouldn't have it any other way.

Irish Independent

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