"I absolutely love camogie. When I was playing soccer, I missed camogie so much" 1 month ago

"I absolutely love camogie. When I was playing soccer, I missed camogie so much"

Tall-tale.

A youngster grows up in a town of terraced council houses and tarnished reputations. All her life she's been hearing that, being from a place like here, you couldn't possibly amount to much. She looks around to see the drugs, the alcohol and the troubled minds but for Amy O'Connor, Knocknaheeny was never the slippery slope it was made out to be.

She wanted to live a better life and though perception and prejudice told her that she couldn't, her parents told her she could and those were the people she'd listen to.

Amy O'Connor is now an All-Star, a four-time All-Ireland champion and she is also a qualified pharmacist. She has played soccer for her country but more important than any of that, Amy O'Connor is proud of her club, St Vincent's, and she is proud of her home, Knocknaheeny.

And if you ask her, the blistering wing forward on weekends and the hard-working pharmacist during the week, what it was that inspired her to work towards her goals, she'll jump at the chance to tell you that it was the shine off the tv in the corner of her kitchen, as these heroes in Cork jerseys won camogie All-Irelands.

"I absolutely love camogie," says the Littlewoods Ireland ambassador.

"When I was playing soccer I just missed camogie so much. It’s so cheesy but the joy it brings me is just unbelievable. It was something that I always knew I would do. Camogie was always my number one but it probably took a back seat when I was playing soccer at that high level with Ireland.

"The best decision I ever made was to put all my eggs in one basket with camogie. In 2014 I just made the call that senior inter-county camogie was it for me. All I ever wanted to be growing up was a Cork senior intercounty camogie player. I didn’t want to be a teacher or a doctor, I just wanted to be a senior inter-county camogie player playing with Cork. Looking back, I probably thought it was a difficult decision but it was an easy decision at the time."

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To become an inter-county player, you'll need to be dedicated and it was the same steely desire that brought O'Connor to college and beyond.

“I am not going to say I am the first in the area to go to college but it’s not really the thing to do in my area, unfortunately," she said in an interview previously.

“I see children that are five or six or whatever, and you can nearly tell exactly how their life is going to go. It is very frustrating to watch. I just hope by players like me, people getting involved in Vincent’s, that they can see there are other things to life than following the same cycle over and over again."

“I am very, very proud to be from Knocknaheeny. I love the place, I will probably live there for the rest of my life," she added in that 2019 interview.

As for the time being, though the furore surrounding the camogie calendar was an unwanted distraction, O'Connor is eager to leave it all behind and hit the road again.

"I think it was a bit of a disaster, really, in the last few weeks. Preparations for the league weren't ideal and we were all looking forward to getting back playing after being out for so long. I think our message in Cork was very clear. We came out multiple times in the press last week and made our feelings known to everyone so that was very clear about he felt about the entire situation.

With club players potentially set to miss their provincial and All-Ireland campaigns due to the split season vote, O'Connor urges the camogie association to find a solution and to get these games played.

"They put so much into it and the club is the most important part of our game. It's just a shame that this has come to a head now. But I think there's been multiple things laid out on social media outlining how it could be accommodated and I hope the association can take a look at that, just like they looked at ours."

12 May 2021; Amy O'Connor of Cork pictured at the launch of the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues. The Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues begin Saturday 15th of May. Littlewoods Ireland and the Camogie Association will be live streaming a number of games throughout the Leagues for free across @LWI_GAA Twitter and Camogie Association’s YouTube #StyleOfPlay.