The dressing room is a fun place when Briege Corkery is around. People smile as she cracks jokes and laughs without a scintilla of self-consciousness.
All-Ireland Final day can drain you but Corkery doesn’t get wound up. She is the same Briege before, during and after.
We have become accustomed to the perpetual motion in red, either with a big ball or a hurley and sliotar. Driving forward and chasing backwards, the number on her back a means of identifying her rather than tying her down to any part of the field.
As holder of 14 senior All-Ireland medals across both codes, the 28-year-old has been fortunate enough to have had many celebrations and she doesn’t hold back there either. Seize the day and then enjoy it.
Hard to imagine a day when she won’t be there. It will come though. It might have come this year.
The former stonemason had been working in a veterinary practice after returning from a year of travelling with boyfriend Diarmuid Scannell in 2010. The couple got engaged (they will wed in January) and with both of them raised on farms, decided to join forces with another farmer milking 500 cows a day. Even for someone used to juggling so many balls, it was a test.
“Going back to the start of the year, I knew the new job would be very time-consuming and I didn’t know if I’d be able to fit everything in” explains Corkery. “But the boss here, Michael said ‘Don’t give up now because you’re coming working here. Stay playing as long as you enjoy it and as long as you want to play.’
“For me that was great to hear because I didn’t want to give up. It was great to go back this year, to be back with the squad and with the young ones coming through, to be there for them as well so that we all just work away.
“The way I always look at it is, if I’m enjoying it myself, I’ll stay at it. It’s hard when your friends are moving on and finishing up. In the camogie this year, Joanne (O’Callaghan) and Anna (Geary) are gone, Angela Walsh and Jennifer (O’Leary).
“It’s the end of an era. They’re there a long time. When I started out, they would have been there a couple of years before me. That’s the way it is. You go back as long as you enjoy going back. There is a big change but we’re there to enjoy this year and we’ll see how things fare out. There’s not many years left at inter-county so we must drive on.”
Despite the remarkable success of accumulating five Liberty Insurance All-Ireland senior camogie medals and nine for football, there is no dilution of the Cloughduv force of nature’s hunger, competitiveness or pleasure.
“I’ve never looked back at a camogie or football All-Ireland Final. I don’t look at a newspaper. I just take every game as it comes. Maybe when I’m finished, that’s when I’ll enjoy looking back on things. There’ll be plenty of time then.”
Corkery’s camogie summer campaign kicks off tomorrow with a curtain-raiser to the Leinster SHC semi-final between Galway and Laois. It is a repeat of the League Final, when Galway proved too strong for the All-Ireland champions.
The Corribsiders led by 11 points at half-time but it was noteworthy that Cork had reduced that margin to three by the end. It was an invaluable experience for the newcomers.
“Galway really upped the ante against us in the first half. We were a bit flat on our feet. It is very hard for the likes of Méabh Cahalane, Leanne O’Sullivan and Lauren Callanan. It’s their first year and it was in front of a big crowd (at Semple Stadium) as well.
“At half time, from one to 15, we said we had to up the ante and we did. So we’ll have to be aware of that and can’t be caught like that again.
“Galway will be very tough but we just have to look at ourselves, make sure we’re prepared right. Give it 100%. If you lost, you wouldn’t be happy but there’s nothing worse than coming off the pitch knowing you could have given it more.
“That’s how it was for the League Final. We were annoyed that we didn’t give the first half more of a rattle. You have to learn from those kind of things.”
There will be football later in the year too but she just doesn’t seem to get tired. And in fairness, she doesn’t seem to tire of being asked about the dual role either.
“I suppose I don’t know any better. Going training and going working. It was going to school when I was younger. I was working when I left school. I think Rena (Buckley) is the same. It’s our lifestyle. When you grow up with something, you don’t realise. When we retire maybe. It’s just what we do and we enjoy it.”
There’s that word again, the nub of what she does. Long may it continue.
Read this article in today's Irish Independent.