FRIDAY, JUNE 16
TG4 Munster SFC, Rd 2
Cork V Kerry
KERRY legend Mary Jo Curran can recount her 10 senior All-Ireland medals, but as for All-Stars, she’s not quite sure.
It’s 10 bronze statuettes to be exact, the same as Mayo’s Cora Staunton.
A midfield maestro for the nine in-a-row All-Ireland-winning Kerry team (1982 to 1990) also has two minor All-Irelands and two senior county championship medals with Beaufort, but the Glenbeigh National School teacher shies away when you cross-reference the facts.
Curran’s final bow in the green and amber was taken following her tenth All-Ireland win in 1993, but ask her would she play the game today, and her answer is defiant.
“Absolutely not! The pace used to suit me fine in those days! I wouldn’t survive today,” she smiles.
“You can’t compare players from a different era, but it was a slower game and that suited me to the ground. I can’t believe the amount of work players put in nowadays. It’s seven days because if they’re not training, they’re in the gym or doing a recovery session,” the Kerry selector confides.
Having come on board with Alan O’Neill two seasons ago, Curran’s eyes were truly opened to the gaping level of professionalism between two differing eras.
“The preparation he puts in is incredible. That’s the one thing I would say about ladies football, is that the coaching in the top few teams is now equal to what’s going on in any men’s intercounty team. The standard is very high and I think that goes unseen.”
Curran doesn’t believe however that her legendary status adds an extra bite to the set-up. But ask the players, they’ll tell you otherwise.
“I’d be an extra pair of eyes but I wouldn’t presume to say I add anything extra than what everyone else brings,” says Curran, who operates the line alongside Harry O’Neill of Dr Croke’s and former Kerry footballers Sean O’Sullivan, Nora Hallissey and Mags Fitzgerald.
Her love of the game began playing with Killorglin, before setting up a team in Beaufort. Then there were the days playing Superleague basketball with Lee Strand Imperials, with the likes of Cork sporting legends Sandy Fitzgibbon, Rose Breen, and the Forde sisters – Caroline, Miriam and Annette.
They were “great days”; days during which she became accustomed to the mettle of those over the county bounds possess when it comes to sport.
And so the admiration for tonight’s opponents, Cork, in the second round of the TG4 Munster SFC in Macroom (7.30pm) isn’t understated.
“Cork have set the standard for everyone else and they’re the reason ladies football has risen across the board.
“They’ve so many household names. I know they lost their manager but it won’t make a difference because the likes of Briege (Corkery), Rena (Buckley) and Brid (Stack), are all leaders on the field.”
Kerry haven’t won the Brendan Martin Cup since Curran retired in 1993, but with rising stars Hannah O’Donoughue and Fiadhna Tangney leading the way at underage level, the future looks bright for the Kingdom. The seniors will tonight gauge themselves again since losing the National League semi-final to Mayo in April, and it doesn’t get any better than against the reigning All-Ireland champions.
“At the end of the day it’s not on the league we’ll be judged, it’ll be on if we’re in Croke Park in September or not,” added Curran.
Elsewhere, 2015 All-Ireland finalists Dublin take on Westmeath in the Leinster Championship, while Cavan take on Donegal and Armagh face Monaghan in the Ulster Championship.
June 17, 2016