Camogie legend, Gemma O’Connor has called time on her 19 year inter-county career. The Cork star has one of the most illustrious careers in the game, nine All Ireland titles and 11 All Stars.
To mark the retirement of the Cork icon, we put together our top 5 moments of her career.
2002 was O’Connor’s inauguration season and as an eager 17 year old she helped Cork to their first All-Ireland title in 4 years when Fiona O’Driscoll put four goals past Tipperary to win out 4-9 to 1-9 in Croke Park.
19 years later the Defense Forces member has solidified herself as an all time great in camogie and her efforts will be cherished by Cork GAA fans into the future.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD 2015
With the St. Finbarr’s player collecting the most All-Stars (11) in the history of camogie it is no surprise that she has also picked up a Player of the Year Award back in 2015.
Having added her 7th All Ireland medal to her trophy cabinet that year with a 1-13 to 0-9 victory over Galway, O’Connor was rewarded for her stalwart defensive prowess alongside fellow “Corkonian” Paudie Murray who won the respective Manager of the Year Award at the same ceremony.
Also in 2015 O’Connor pledged to RTE that she would “give it one more year and that will definitely be it,”
Camogie and Cork are forever grateful that was not the case!
THAT LAST MINUTE EQUALISER
The now 36-year-old played a vital role in many matches but perhaps the pinnacle was that of the 2017 All Ireland Final against old rivals Kilkenny where O’Connor sent a point sweeping between the posts In the dying embers of the game to level the match.
A paradigm moment of composure which saw the Rebels earn a replay and eventually go on to lift the O’Duffy Cup that year.
Gemma O’Connor has announced her retirement from inter-county camogie… 19 years, 9 All Irelands, 11 All Stars – what a legend. Her epic strike to level the 2017 All Ireland Final as the clock struck red is one of my favourite Croke Park moments, ever…📽pic.twitter.com/E1fNRzjmij— Elaine Buckley (@ElaineBucko) February 23, 2021
A PROFESSIONAL TO THE NTH DEGREE
Just two weeks before the All-Ireland Final in 2014 O’Connor received devastating news that her mother was diagnosed with stage four terminal lung cancer. On matchday she exemplified her talent as Cork went on to retain the title that year Vs Galway but she also demonstrated resilience and strength both on that day and since as she has spoken out about her grief.
In 2017 she told The 42 “No matter what I’d always see her head at games. She’d be coming down to the odd training session and I still sometimes — even though obviously I’m aware that she’s not there, — it’s just the habit of after games I have to ring my Mam.”
A SOLDIER BOTH ON AND OFF THE FIELD
Having suffered a punctured lung against Clare just month prior the Cork legend was suspected to be ruled out until mid-December but shocked the camogie world when she not only started the semifinal vs Kilkenny in November but scored a goal within the first eight minutes.
A soldier both on and off the field O’Connor personified courage throughout her career.