Monday 26 August 2019

'I chose camogie, I followed my heart' - Galway ace Caitriona Cormican on dual choice

"I love helping people and I love getting to know people," says Cormican. Photo: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Daragh Ó Conchúir

Caitriona Cormican has a lot of history with Croke Park. Plenty of it has been character forming but there have been days to remember, too.

The most recent was Galway's National Camogie League final defeat of Kilkenny in March, although even that had a tinge of disappointment, as she had to watch from the sidelines due to a broken hand.

She was out on the sod for the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate Championship final in 2013, when Galway later completed a famous double. Nobody thought then that we would be still waiting for Maroon ribbons to adorn the O'Duffy Cup six years later.

Way back in 2005, Cormican joined the All-Ireland championship-winning ladies football squad but they lost their crown in the decider to a burgeoning superpower. It was the first of 11 titles in 12 years for Cork.

In June 2018, she completed her practical to be a GP at GAA headquarters and having qualified in April, is working in a practice in Oranmore. Her passion and suitability for the job is evident.

"I love helping people and I love getting to know people," says Cormican.

"The attraction of GP to me compared to the hospital was you get to know families, grandkids and grandparents. It's lovely. You make a real bond with them. In a hospital it is really hard. You might see a patient and they are gone. You never see them again.

"I used to wonder how that patient is doing. Whereas now I get to see them. I would see their brother or sister. It is great. That is the part that I love so much.

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"You are a big part of the community. I love that aspect of it."

Combining training with dual responsibilities to camogie and ladies football was tough. It is an arduous process, with an intern year after college. After that comes two years in a hospital rotating through different jobs appropriate to general practice, followed by another two years in a practice - one rural, one urban.

Two years ago, she was in Newport, where the next stop is Achill Island, and it was a long trek home a couple of nights a week. But she loved the football banter with the Mayo folk and gave as good as she got.

At that juncture, Cormican would have been much better known as a footballer. She garnered All-Ireland medals at underage level in both codes, though quickly progressing to senior with the big ball, plateaued at intermediate in camogie.

Then last year, she got the nod after showing some excellent form with Cappataggle. Consider that she is 31 now and you understand why she had resigned herself to it never happening.

"The year before I had been asked to help out as a team doctor. I thought that was it, I would never play senior camogie for Galway. So when I got the chance, I said 'Why not?' I just really enjoyed last year. We didn't win the semi-final but I enjoyed the year overall."

Cormican opted to end her inter-county football career this season.

"It was probably the end of the season last year that I knew that I was just going to pick one. I just went with the camogie. I followed my heart. I really enjoyed it. Not that I didn't enjoy the football. I thought it would be better, as a player, with work and everything, that one would be plenty.

"I'm more mentally fresher than anything. They looked after me so well last year, I wasn't over-trained or anything. But even mentally, you go from one championship week straight away it was again and again and again. That part I found tough all right."

The dual question is a thorny one but Cormican doesn't see a future in it.

"It is probably not sustainable long-term. You do it for a couple of years. You would have to admire the Cork girls who are able to do it for so long. It is unbelievable. I really did enjoy it. I did consider doing it again this year. But injury-wise and things like that, that is probably the main reason I just thought I would stick with one. You are more prone to getting injured.

"I had nothing too serious, but niggles, tendon stuff. It was all down to overuse. For the body it was probably the right decision."

Kilkenny got the better of Galway in the group stages of the All-Ireland senior championship, motivated no doubt by the league final result, but the westerners did the business from there to book a quarter-final against Waterford at Semple Stadium tonight (7.15).

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