by Daragh Ó Conchúir
IT HAS been a wild ride for Amy Lee since being brought into the Cork Camogie set-up by Paudie Murray in 2015.
The na Piarsaigh goalkeeper has won two All-Ireland Senior medals and also played in the 2015 Division 1 decider, when Cork narrowly failed to reel in Galway.
In the meantime, she has been on a victorious Division 2 outfit and played in a couple of All-Ireland Intermediate Finals, although both ended in defeat.
Throughout that journey, she has been learning from one of the greatest netminders Camogie has ever seen.
Anyone thinking Lee might be impatient to step into Aoife Murray’s shoes on a permanent basis, particularly having had that job three years ago when the Cloughduv legend announced her retirement only to make a glorious summer return, is underestimating the value the 22-year-old places on being exposed to the skipper’s professionalism, dedication and experience.
If someone who has accumulated eight Senior All-Irelands, as well as seven All-Stars, is continuing to strive for improvement in what is her 17th year at the highest level, it has to rub off on you.
“Aoife is great” says Lee. “100 per cent, we have a good relationship and I look at how she prepares and trains for games.
“If I didn’t get the call in 2015, I wouldn’t be the player I am today. I can’t thank her enough for the help she gives me. She works with the Intermediate goalies when she has time too. It’s great.
“To be fair to Paudie, I played all the 2015 League with the Seniors, the Munster Championship, I played last year in both League and Championship, I played in three or four of the League games with the Seniors this year. So I’m very happy. It’s a bonus for me to be training with Aoife. It’s absolutely brilliant.”
A recreation leisure management student at CIT, Lee is enjoying life at the moment. Players live for big games but while she has enjoyed plenty of success, there have been disappointments too. It is what you do with setbacks that determines whether you progress however.
“It’s always hard to lose an All-Ireland Final in Croke Park but that just gives us more of a drive to come back. It shows how mentally tough we are to use that as something positive and get us back to another Final.”
Cork go into tomorrow’s game in Freshford as defending champions. Their opponents, Westmeath beat them in the Cork Camogie Grounds at the beginning of the month so nobody will be taking the All-Ireland Premier Junior winners of 2017 for granted.
“We are very happy with how the League has gone to be honest. It has been great, with some new players coming in and getting a chance. It’s a great stepping stone for the Championship and to have a Final at the end of it is great.
“The way Paudie works it is that he puts faith in young players that they can make the step up and that’s where him being in charge of both the Seniors and Intermediates is such a big advantage. He has shown that over the years and that gives you confidence that you can take the step. It gives you confidence when you get the call too and I have appreciated every chance I have gotten.
“Westmeath are a good solid team and you can’t take that away from them. They won their All-Ireland last year and they beat us. So we know what’s in front of us. We’ll just go out and play the game and see what happens.”
Sunday April 29th
Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues Division 2 Final
Cork v Westmeath, St. Lachtain's GAA, Freshford, Co. Kilkenny @ 2pm
Saturday April 28th
All-Ireland Minor A Championship Final
Cork v Galway, MacDonagh Park, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary @ 2pm
All-Ireland Minor B Championship Final
Antrim v Westmeath, O'Raghallaigh's GAA, Drogheda, Co. Louth @ 3.30pm
All-Ireland Minor B Shield Final
Down v Kildare, O'Raghallaigh's GAA, Drogheda, Co. Louth @ 1.30pm