Thursday 14 December 2017

Rebellette Elaine Harte retains the will for glory

Elaine Harte. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Elaine Harte. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

While Juliet Murphy’s retirement, and subsequent return to action, took most of the Cork ladies’ football headlines during the summer, it almost went unnoticed that another of the Rebels’ stalwarts was also considering an exit.

Goalkeeper Elaine Harte – a substitute teacher – took an extended break to Australia when the school holidays came around, intending for it to ease herself into retirement, but Murphy coming back made her rethink.

“I’m at the age where I was thinking about retiring,” she says, “and I said I’d throw a holiday in there so I’d definitely retire but it hasn’t quite worked out like that.

“I was being kept updated and when I came back Jules was there. She’s is inspirational, even just her drive and the way she drives everyone else on, it gives everyone a boost, even just watching her in training.”

Cork are aiming for a eighth All-Ireland in nine years against Monaghan in Sunday’s TG4 All-Ireland senior final. Harte, who has played in the previous seven wins, has regained her place in goal from Martina O’Brien, but she is keen to keep the focus forward rather than backwards.

“We’re not going to concentrate on the record,” she says.

“Every match has its own merits, every All-Ireland is different, we’ll focus on this one. “Yesterday’s dinner won’t feed you today and any of our previous finals won’t help us on Sunday!”

Having lost twice to Kerry in the Munster championship, Cork looked beaten against Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-final before a late surge gave them victory. The Kingdom were seen off in the last four after that and Harte cites the win over the Dubs as the year’s turning point.

“It has stood to us,” she says, “we’ve built up our confidence from that game.

“It just showed the heart on the team, the girls were excellent, what won us that game was that we didn’t panic, we went for points.

“The three points before the goal really won us the match and we didn’t go for goals. That’s experience, it was similar to the Dublin game two years ago and also the Mayo match in 2005, our first final. Again, we didn’t panic.”

That level of resolve is indicative of just how good a team Cork are. The obituaries had been written after the Kerry defeats, but Harte says that, like in 2010 after they were beaten by Tyrone in the All-Ireland quarter-final, it only drove them on.

“When we met them a third time that was a factor, we didn’t want to lose to them a third time in the one year.

“The will to come back in play in Croke Park was still very strong,especially this year as it’s the celebration of the association’s 40th year, it’s a special year.

“It’s the love of the game, we really enjoy training, we really enjoy the game and we’re really good friends. You’re doing it for each other.

“When we lost people were saying, ‘That’s it, ye’re gone, ye’re done with’, and I think we kind of fed off that. We’re kind of stubborn!”

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