For years, we have grown accustomed to Anna Geary’s fluid play from the Cork half-back line. With the long blonde tresses flowing from the bottom of her helmet, the Milford ace has been a leading force for the best part of a decade, mining three All-Irelands and four All-Stars.
Geary ready to led Cork charge
Last year though, Paudie Murray and his selectors opted to utilise Geary as the fulcrum of the attack and it was a testament to the IT software management specialist’s skills that she pulled it off with aplomb. Cork won the Irish Daily Star Division 1 league title against all-conquering Wexford and though that result was reversed in the All-Ireland decider, the Leesiders were back as a force to be reckoned with.
“With Cork last year, they were experimenting with centre-forward” explains Geary. “We’ve had a few players down the years that retired and then Gemma (O’Connor) moved back to midfield and centre-back. So I was moved into the position. With Milford I was centre-back the whole year… so I suppose for Cork, it was an extension of that. I’m doing well enough there and we’ll see how it goes.Rena Buckley is on the same line as me at the moment and I would have played on the half-back line with Rena going back to 2006, so there’d be familiarity there as well which I think particularly in the backs, is very important.”
The return to a more natural habitat – she held camogie’s most dangerous forward, Ursula Jacob to just a point from play in the All-Ireland club semi-final last February – has had an equally positive impact it seems, with a repeat of last year’s league final now upon us. It comes at the same time too as Geary takes on a new role as captain, courtesy of Milford finally winning their first county title after so many near-misses. She came into the role, buoyed by winning the All-Ireland with the north Cork outfit and is relishing it.
“I don’t think of it in terms of being the leader of Cork because I would like to think that when we step onto the field, we’ve 15 leaders. You might be giving the talk but you mightn’t be the one that’s expected to lift the team because there are certain people that have that in them anyway, and it doesn’t matter if they’re captain or not. I think if you let a title like that weigh on your shoulders, it’s only going to drag you down rather than drive you on. It’s a tremendous honour. If you told me this time last year that I would be captain of Cork, I would have had severe doubts given our luck with Milford in trying to win a county."
“I’m not going to say it’s something I don’t dwell on because I absolutely do. I’m going to try to use it as positively as I can. I hope it would drive me on to do things even when I feel I might be too tired to do it! But I don’t dwell on the title of it. It’s something that if on Sunday, we were successful, it would be great but it would mean nothing to me if we lose. I’ll go out as a No 7 or wherever I am and play my game, and think about being captain after if I need to.”
Of course, there is the very real chance of Geary receiving the silverware from Camogie Association president, Aileen Lawlor. But this is not personal. It’s about Cork and the league was very good to the Rebelettes last year.“It was an important milestone to get to a league final as we hadn’t gotten there since 2007. And because Wexford had won the previous year’s All-Ireland, it was a good test for us. And it bridged that gap that they were untouchable; it showed that you could break them down. It’s being built up now that there’s a rivalry developed between Wexford and Cork but if you look back on the history books, there’s a far greater rivalry between Tipperary and Cork, and Kilkenny and Cork. But I suppose Wexford have been so successful in such a short space of time and I suppose prior to that it would have been Cork so it’s been built up."
“Any final is there to be won, be it a provincial final, a league final or All-Ireland championship. And it’s the third time we’ve met in 12 months. It’s a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final too as well as the league final, which shows a consistency in both teams.It just so happens that it’s Wexford but it wouldn’t matter who it was; we’re not going to change the way we prepare for Sunday because it’s Wexford.They are the current All-Ireland champions and everyone wants to knock the champions – I know that more than anyone. But in saying that, it’s about performing, not about beating Wexford.”
*Pictured: Anna Geary (Cork) and Noeleen Lambert (Wexford) at the Irish Daily Star Captains Day in Croke Park.
Cork v Wexford, Irish Daily Star Division One League Final, Sunday May 5th, Nowlan Park, 1.30pm