"I was getting cross at training and I was coming home and I would be in such bad form" - Learning to love the game again
By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Chloe Morey is talking from Inch Beach, a slice of paradise in Kerry.
“Living my best life,” as she says with a chortle of contentment.
A prodigious talent from the time she stood out among the boys at juvenile level, winning an All-Ireland with Clare was all Morey thought about. The notion of it consumed her, even after she realised that dream as a 15-year-old second-half substitute in the 2008 All-Ireland Premier Junior Final.
It was a mindset that prompted a storybook of stupendous performances, the 2013 All-Star a recognition of her status.
As time wore on though, it all became a bit much. She wasn’t aware of it initially. But the incessant expectation, the lack of tangible success and being aware of what might be whispered around when she didn’t record a double-figure tally all told. These were external pressures but they were mirrored internal too. It was what she demanded of herself.
Her mood darkened as she laced up her boots, an alien concept for someone who lived for being out on the pitch, pucking a sliotar with her friends. Throw in a knee injury and it was time to step away.
But along came Covid-19 and by the time camogie was ready to return last year, so was Morey, physically and mentally fit, re-energised, rebooted.
“I just wasn’t mentally in it at all,” admits Morey. “I was going training cross... I was getting cross at training and I was coming home and I would be in such bad form because I didn’t perform the way I could.
“My dad would be brilliant with me. Mike, he was just like, ‘Is it really worth it now if you are going to be in a bad mood for days on end?’ I just thought, maybe it would be better if I took a mental break.
“In a bad way, I am probably the only person where Covid came about at the right time. I needed a surgery on my knee so I got that and I was back two weeks after. I was working with Ray Moran and I just did my rehab really well. The Clare set-up were really good to allow me back in. I slotted in there for the quarter-final then against Cork.”
She is grateful to Ger O’Connell and his fellow mentors for their understanding in the management of her regime and she swears she has never felt as fit, having turned 28 last March. There is a lot of mileage clocked up since 2008.
“All I remember is gawking up at the Croke Park stands because I was not in the match at all. I thank Colm Hanley who gave me a chance when I was that age. I was very lucky because people were telling him maybe it’s not the best idea. It was my dad and Colm Hanley versus the world. I am very lucky I have been a part of it since then.”
She thinks of all the managements along the way that helped her, and the likes of Deirdre Murphy, Claire McMahon and Sharon McMahon, who looked out for her, not that she ever felt she needed minding.
Morey is trying to dial back on the ferocious mental intensity she used to work herself into before games, to be a bit more easy-going. She will always think about things. The different phrases, words and artwork that decorate her body are an expression of what’s important to her, her life’s philosophies and a pride in her individuality. Overall, she has embraced the notion of a life balance. It is working, she thinks. Pleasure is part of the process now.
“The two people I would look up to are my brother Caimin (an All-Ireland U21 winner with Clare), who would be really meticulous - he would measure every grain of rice - and then my brother Alex, who is the complete opposite. That lad will get up at four o’clock for a county final, get man of the match an hour later. I am trying to have a bit more of an Alex attitude because I am probably naturally like Caimin. At the moment I am really enjoying it anyway but I think the break is probably the best thing I ever did.”
Morey used the time out to get a diploma in personal training from Setanta College, through the WGPA. The benefits are two-fold, in terms of having a better idea what works for her own body, but also, enabling her to go into partnership with her cousin Séadna, the 2013 All-Ireland hurling winner with Clare.
“I am only realising in the last year or two there is life outside of camogie. I love the life, it is an absolute privilege to be able to do what I am able to do. But I just lost sight of that. I am just really enjoying it. I got a chance to do things that I haven’t been able to do.
“We are hoping to start a fitness facility in Sixmilebridge in the next few months. When someone thinks a gym or something, they think it’s very scary. We want to show that there is an exercise for everybody, we want to make it an inclusive and comfortable set-up… we will find something for you no matter how big, how small, how hard you want to push, no matter what. We are going to call it Morey Movement.”
A teacher at her own alma mater, St Camin’s Community School in Shannon, Morey is surrounded by colleagues with strong Gaelic games pedigree, including her Clare teammate Niamh O’Dea and former county colleague Carol O’Leary. Her principal, Alan Cunningham is a selector with the all-conquering Limerick hurlers. Their coach, Paul Kinnerk is on a career break from the school at present. David Forde hurled with distinction with the Banner.
She lauds county PRO Bríd MacNamara, who is raising funds for Clare camogie by leading the 1 Million Steps For Clare Camogie initiative through July (https://gofund.me/52c92c42).
“I send her a text every Mother’s Day to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day because she is like our camogie mammy, she minds us so much. She has done this for a number of years. She used to feed us after training. She would get sandwiches and would be there making them for you. Brid Mac is class. I know other counties speak highly of her as well. I think we realise how valuable and brilliant Brid is. Just as a person, she is incredible to everybody. She is walking about 20,000 steps a day, before work and after work. Just trying to fundraise for the county in general in terms of camogie and stuff.”
Hopes were high that Clare could build on their improvement last term when they performed with distinction against Cork in the All-Ireland quarter-final. Being drawn with the All-Ireland finalists in Group 3 makes it difficult but Morey rejects the invitation to indulge in self-pity.
The woman known within the camp as ‘Flares’, thanks to Orlaith Duggan’s observations surrounding a fashion faux-pas in Slaughtneil, scored ten points on her home pitch as the champions Kilkenny were pushed to six and will travel to Kenny Park today (4pm throw-in) feeling confident of taking Galway’s scalp.
“Every year I go to play with Clare, in my head I am (thinking), ‘We are getting to an All-Ireland Final.’ I don’t think anything else. I know everyone is like, ‘Ah no you don’t.’ No, I do. That’s why I give as much as I do.
“I am looking forward to playing Galway now in Athenry. I am going in there thinking that we have to come out with a win. It’s do or die. But to be honest I am just really excited about it. And I am glad I am like that about it again.
“I am fully aware people think nothing of Clare camogie but that is probably what drives me on even more, to be like, ‘You know what? Middle finger to ye.’ Ye want to prove people wrong. I love trying to prove people wrong.
“I am sure there is plenty to be said about me. I think that is what I would have been listening to the last few years, people’s opinions of me. I don’t know why because I am a teacher and I would normally say ‘Don’t be listening to anyone.’ I have actually taken that advice finally, I actually don’t care what people think of me.
“In terms of Clare, we know people don’t give a crap about us and it spurs me on. From now on I am (thinking), ‘This could be my last year so I need to give it everything.’ When all is said and done, was there no stone unturned? Did I do everything I could for Clare? That is what you should be like when you put on the Clare jersey. It has to be that attitude. I want to leave playing for Clare going, I could do no more, I gave everything mentally, physically, emotionally. I am sure there are other people going, ‘Jesus just go out and play.’
“I probably think about it a bit too much. I don’t mind that I am like that.”
Some things can never be changed, but Chloe Morey is definitely living her best life.