No rest for Rena
Managing a full-time career and studying for a Masters, while balancing intercounty camogie, Rena Buckley is the kind of person you’d imagine would welcome an extra couple of hours in her day.
The most decorated Gaelic Games player of all time, alongside team-mate Briege Corkery, Rena is currently concentrating solely on camogie, with a decision to be made on football later in the year.
“I’m studying for a Masters in Sports Physiotherapy at the moment in UCD, so I have to go to Dublin once a week on Fridays. Between that, the camogie and work (Rena runs a physiotherapy clinic in Macroom) there’s not an awful lot of time left for much more at the moment.
“I’m not sure what my decision will be, I’ll decide in May, but it’s not something I’m thinking about at all right now. I’ve too much going on! People are there asking me have I any plans for Paddy’s Day...I wish! It’s just very full-on with the college work too because I have exams, so I’m trying to study for them and then work and play camogie too.”
Cork have had a bright start to the season with three wins from three in the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League. Wexford are the Rebel County’s next opponents on Sunday and Rena says the Model County pose quite a threat. “We’ve beaten Dublin, Waterford and Tipperary so far but we would have expected to win those. We have Wexford at the weekend and Kilkenny after that so they’d be the hardest challenges of all our group games.
“Wexford are a good side, we have them at home, which is always an advantage, but we’ve lost to them at home previously so playing in Cork doesn’t mean the result is a forgone conclusion. But things are going well so far, we’ve a few new players in as well who’ve joined us from the B side. Libby Coppinger, Linda Collins, Chloe Sigerson and Niamh McCarthy are all in and it’s great to have some fresh faces around – hopefully the League experience will allow for a strong panel then as the season goes on.”
Cork have not won the League since 2013 and this year will be hoping to recapture the O’Duffy Cup lost to Kilkenny in last year’s All-Ireland Final, the same opposition Cork beat to claim All-Ireland honours in 2015. How much emphasis do Cork put on the League?
“The League is very important in that it gives an indicator of how well you’re playing,” says Rena.
“It’s not the end of the world if we lose a match but we go out to win everything we play in. It’s not the main focus in a season of course, but it certainly is important in developing the panel and it help us to play the right way which will be an advantage later on in the year. The All-Ireland is obviously the main focus but we only beat Wexford in a replay last year to get to the final, so getting to the final again won’t be easy.
“Last year, we were beaten by the better team in Kilkenny, but we were so disappointed with our performnce; they were by far the better side.”
Away from the intercounty scene, Rena enjoyed success on the club scene when Inniscarra shocked hot favourites Milford in the County Final. After winning four titles in-a-row between 2012-2015, and three All-Ireland titles in that period, Milford were on course for a fifth county title only for Inniscarra to land a first cup since 2010.
“Shock was the main feeling,” says Rena. “I think everyone was shocked and that included ourselves. It’s not that we didn’t think we could beat Milford but they were just the form team, they weren’t just winning, they were hammering teams. They were dominating the club scene, not just in Cork but in Ireland, so it was a little unexpected. A shock, but a good shock!”
For now, Rena is just keeping the head down, playing, working and studying. “It’s hectic! You just have to find a balance, there’s people in my Masters class with children and I’ve no idea how they manage it! There’s plenty keeping me busy but I’m just getting on with it, it’s always better to be busy sure!”
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