Wednesday 14 November 2018

If I have to swallow my pride to better camogie, so be it - Murray

Cork’s Aoife Murray shows her colours at the launch of the 2018 Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues yesterday. Photo: Dan Sheirdan/INPHO
Cork’s Aoife Murray shows her colours at the launch of the 2018 Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues yesterday. Photo: Dan Sheirdan/INPHO

Michael Verney

There was much deliberation over the Christmas period but after weighing up all of her options, Aoife Murray felt compelled to chase further success and extend her Cork camogie career into its 17th season.

After claiming the O'Duffy Cup in dramatic circumstances last September when exacting revenge on Kilkenny, many expected Murray to sail off into the sunset with eight All-Ireland medals to her name but "the easy decision is not always the right decision".

With regular commutes to training from her Dublin base, where she works as a property valuer, the veteran goalkeeper knows a long road is facing her but fulfilling "a childhood dream" as captain for 2018 softens the blow.

Murray must be in her car on the Adelaide Road at half three or she's "goosed" but when older brother, and Cork manager, Paudie gave her a call to assess her feelings for the coming season, she admits "it would have been really hard to walk away".

Speaking at yesterday's Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues launch, Murray recalled the conversation and what the family connection with Cork camogie means to her parents.

"Paudie rang me and said, 'Listen Aoife, if I go back I want to know if you're going back but it's not going to be part of my decision'.

"But at the same time from that call I got that he really wanted to go back. He's my big brother and I've a family there that I don't want to let down. Since I've said I'd go back and Paudie said he'd go back and I got the captaincy, my parents are on cloud nine and it's great to be able to do that for your parents after them doing so much for you."

The Cloughduv netminder has witnessed a lot of change throughout her inter-county career and was privileged to be a part of the first All-Stars camogie trip last November, something she admits she "gave up hope on" many years ago.

Despite their blossoming rivalry, she socialised more with the Kilkenny girls than anyone else on the trip to Madrid, which reaffirmed her faith being "that there's two sides to sport". Having broken the glass ceiling, she's also delighted that "it'll now have to happen again".

Earlier this week, the LGFA announced that there would be eight double-headers with men's league games this year and while Murray agrees that a similar position could be adopted in camogie, she would have to bite her tongue somewhat if such developments were to happen.

"It's difficult, myself as a 34-year-old woman playing in my 17th year, the idea of me having to open up for a men's game doesn't really appeal to me. Sometimes I would feel that we're second-class citizens," Murray said.

"I've played senior camogie and we've opened up to an U-21 hurling match and you're kind of going, 'These are kids like, I'm a grown woman and they're on the main stage'.

"That would be my personal side, but pushing that aside you have to look to the progression of the game, we need more people watching it and if you've to swallow your own pride for a small while for that to happen then as a fan of the game I have to do that.

"It would be great if there was more collaboration with games especially at county level and club level. We've played All-Ireland finals and there has been club hurling matches not only on the same day but at the same time. It's not only impacting on supporters but players who have brothers. I had brothers playing a club match at 4 o'clock and I'd an All-Ireland final at 4 o'clock.

"We still have a long road to go. Maybe if we all just finally come under one umbrella, it'd be something. I would hope that with camogie we could have a bit more collaboration on games. It would be great if we see more of that joined-up thinking."

Murray is still nursing a knee injury that will see her miss most of this year's league campaign, as will centre-back Gemma O'Connor. That campaign begins in earnest this weekend with what she describes as a "slap you straight across the face start" against Galway.


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