Anna Geary is speaking from Madrid, where is working on behalf of Dell, but though she will be back as Cork get the defence of their Irish Daily Star camogie Division 1 league title under way against Tipperary on Sunday, the captain will not be lining out writes Daragh Ó Conchúir.
The four-time All-Star is currently concentrating on club duties, as Milford prepare for the All-Ireland senior final, which will act as a curtain-raiser to Dublin’s Allianz Football League tie against Mayo at Croke Park on Saturday week.
She is looking forward to getting the Rebel jersey back on though and insists that Cork will be doing their best to retain the title they wrested from Wexford at Semple Stadium last year.
“Some teams use the league as an experimental process to try out new players” said Geary. “Whereas last year for us, we hadn’t been in an All-Ireland since 2009; so to get back into the league final was a milestone in terms of where we wanted to be.
“I’m sure the management will be trying things; things that will work and things that may not work but that is the beauty of the league. So where you’re going to be pushing all out to be testing yourself to see where you’re at and where you need to be, there will also be new players.
“But we’re champions and it’s not something we’re going to take lightly. Every game we’re going to play we’re going to ultimately try and win and see where that leads us and hopefully we’ll still be fighting come May.”
Geary expects to be back for Offaly on March 13, despite having had by her own reckoning, just a week off in the past 13 months. Throw some pre-Christmas exams into the mix and it has been a hectic period. But as captain, it is something she feels she must do.
She has participated in the pre-season work that commenced at the end of 2012. The 25-year-old is comfortable with the captaincy, and led Cork to a third successive All-Ireland U16 final in 2003 – the year she first made the senior squad. Clubmates Marie Watson and Elaine O’Riordan captained the other two victorious sides.
Just as then, it is the success of Milford that has earned her “a tremendous honour that I won’t take for granted”.
Geary gave an exhibition of defensive play when the North Cork side beat defending champions, Oulart-The Ballagh comfortably in the semi-final. In the process, Geary restricted one of the game’s best ever forwards, Ursula Jacob to just a point from play.
It won’t count for anything unless they win the final though.
“I know it sounds cheesy but it is the stuff dreams are made of. At the start of the year we had decided that after going close but not quite getting there, we were going to give it one last push and throw everything at it to win the county.
“We curbed our celebrations quite early after winning it because we were playing the Munster semi-final two weeks later and two weeks later we had the Munster final, so the night we won that was when we really celebrated the county as well.
“This is what you do it for. You grow up with girls, go to school with them, I went to college with some of them. To walk out onto Croke Park with girls I had known all my life – if you’d have told me 12 months ago that would be happening, I’d have laughed.
“Beating Oulart in the semi-final was a fantastic achievement in itself given the calibre of player that lined out against us that day. But there’s no job done yet, there’s no titles given out after a semi-final. Killimor were there themselves two years ago. They’ve whetted their appetite for success. They know what it feels like to win and will want it again so it will go to the wire again I’m sure.”
*Pictured Anna Geary in action in last year's All Ireland Final in association with RTE Sport