By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Orla Cotter says that she does not know yet if she will line out for Cork in next year’s Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship after recently moving to New York.
The St. Catherine’s 31-year-old has been involved for 14 consecutive seasons at Senior level with the Rebels since being called up in 2006 and has been a key performer for the majority of that term, accumulating seven All-Ireland titles.
Her first Liberty Insurance All-Stars Award arrived in 2008 and though having to wait another six years for her second, that was the start of a phenomenal run of recognition as Cotter was honoured five seasons in-a-row.
The 2018 award came after another fantastic campaign that culminated in the left-handed, right-side-striking Ballynoe native showing nerves of steel to convert a 55m free close to the left sideline in injury time to snatch a one-point victory over Kilkenny in that year’s All-Ireland Final.
That earned her a spot on the recent Liberty Insurance Camogie All-Stars Tour to New York but Cotter did not require the journey with the rest of the party, having already moved there with her husband Mark, who she married in May 2018.
“Mark got a job with the same company he was working with in Ireland” Cotter explains. “It was a great opportunity and a new adventure I suppose.
“I took a career break from school (teaching Irish and PE at Midleton College) so I’m waiting for my work visa to come through. I’m not sure what my plans are yet. Maybe I’ll do something new but I haven’t really decided. It is exciting. I don’t know how many times in your life you get the opportunity to try something different. I don’t know if I will but we’ll see.”
There is much she has yet to work out. Cotter will definitely miss the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League campaign and though she hasn’t ruled out returning home for the Championship, will not do so belatedly and so must consider all the options before letting manager Paudie Murray know her plans.
“I haven’t made any decisions yet. We’ll play it by ear and see what happens in the summer. It’s not like me to go back after everybody else; I’ve never done that and wouldn’t like to do it. And I don’t know what I might be doing in terms of work. It would also be a long time to leave Mark here so there’s a lot to consider.
“I have spoken to Paudie about it but really all I’ve said is ‘we’ll see’ and I can’t say any more than that right now because I don’t know.”
The couple are living in Jersey City, which undoubtedly to the relief of Mark at least, was too far away for hosting a house party for the touring group though as Cotter notes, “everything is a Metro away” in NYC.
She has looked at doing some online courses to fill the time until her work visa has been acquired and may well get involved in coaching with one of the local Camogie clubs.
What she doesn’t do is think too much about the All-Ireland Semi-Final loss to Galway. Her policy is to absorb whatever lessons need learning immediately and then consign the whole sorry experience to the bin (or trash can, in deference to her new home) of her mind.
“It was a while since we hadn’t made the last two so it was disappointing given the standards we set for ourselves. Galway were outstanding on the day and I suppose maybe we were disappointed that we didn’t play to the best of our ability.
“In sport, if you don’t turn up on the day you don’t get a second chance. Galway did and went on to win and deservedly so.
“I’m not one to look back on matches at all. You know yourself what went wrong. Sometimes it’s good to learn I suppose but I haven’t looked back on that one yet anyway. I don’t really look back on them if we win or lose to be honest. My dad has probably looked back on it a few times alright!”
By then, she knew that she would be packing her bags for the States and thus making a far shorter trip to base camp at the Wellington Hotel, just a hop, skip and jump from Central Park, Carnegie Hall and Times Square.
“It was gas alright. I got the All-Star in 2018 and was it back in May or June when they announced about going to New York? We were nearly sure we were going at that stage and were laughing.
“Two years ago we were in Madrid (on the inaugural Tour) and had a good old laugh. The game was good and competitive. It’s a little bit more relaxed going in to play an exhibition game like that. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses. It’s good fun.”
Cotter’s Cork teammate Amy O’Connor stole the show at Gaelic Park 11 days ago, scoring 3-4 from play in the first-half alone as the class of 2019 got the upper hand in this year’s renewal.
It was undoubtedly strange to be in opposition to the St. Vincent’s speedster but two years ago, Aoife Murray was saving Cotter’s penalty in the Spanish capital.
“And she’s the one that usually takes the penalties, so the rest of us hadn’t that much practice!” says a laughing Cotter.
Only time will tell if there will be another outing with Cork for Orla Cotter, not to mind another All-Stars tour.