Cork Star Jennifer O’Leary’s Ashbourne memories

The Ashbourne, Purcell and Fr.Meachair Cups may be over for 2016, but the memories made on these weekends stay forever. Cork’s Jennifer O’Leary shows this in her account of her Ashbourne memories.

13 August 2011; Jennifer O'Leary, Cork. All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Semi-Final in association with RTE Sport, Cork v Wexford, Nowlan Park, Kilkenny. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

13 August 2011; Jennifer O’Leary, Cork. All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Semi-Final in association with RTE Sport, Cork v Wexford, Nowlan Park, Kilkenny. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

My Third Level Camogie experience

Jennifer O’ Leary (UL and Cork Camogie)

I can honestly say that the Camogie I played with UL for 4 years was one of the best experiences of my life. While studying PE and English as my degree I thankfully had the opportunity to further my Camogie ability by playing with some inspirational people and players from all over the country. My father had wanted me to go to UCC as it was a college renowned for winning Ashbourne titles at the time but it seemed like fate was pulling me to UL in 2002 and we ended up winning 3 titles from 2003-2006.

The training we endured during those successful years really stood to me and improved my mental and physical endurance. I didn’t know what it was like to train hard until I reached college and since then I have kept that attitude to every aspect of my own life. I remember the extremely tough trainings in the muck of Maguires field; training during the bitterly cold winters at 7am both during the week and at weekends. There were often months that would pass before I actually got to go home to West Cork because the training was so professional and we as a squad were so dedicated. I guess that is why we were so successful, that and being an extremely close group.

Influential players such as Siobhan Ryan, Orla Kilkenny, Aislinn Connolly and many more spring to mind when I recall those playing years. Our managers in Tom Hennessy (Limerick), Clem Smith (Limerick) and Sean Og (Limerick) really inspired and drove us to be the best we could be. Not only that but we were all such great friends and if we were to meet again tomorrow, we would all have that one special thing in common, the successful Ashbourne years. A fond memory that I often think of was when us girls all applied facemasks the night before our Ashbourne semi final and dressed up in our ever so stylish pyjamas. Such fun and laughter! I wish I could turn back the clock and experience ever minute all over again.

In the 2003-2006 seasons, UCD were our toughest opponents and we faced many a battle on the playing field against them. Of course there was always the intense rivalry between UCC and UL. There was many a battle song sung at the banquets where we made fun of and ridiculed our oppositions, as they did the same to us in a light-hearted manner. Our theme song simply entailed singing UL, UL, UL, UL, UL. Simple yet highly effective!!

The very best of luck to all teams who have qualified for the competition but especially to my college UL, I hope you have a successful campaign. Enjoy each moment because college years are so transient, they go by in the blink of an eye. Cherish the opportunity and it certainly goes without saying you get what you put in so give it everything!!

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