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Rena Buckley lifts the O'Duffy Cup. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
Rena Buckley lifts the O'Duffy Cup. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
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Rena Buckley’s brilliant achievements in both codes can't be lauded enough

THERE'S only one person with whom we can start this week’s column.

Winning an All-Ireland title is a creditable achievement, as it shows you are part of a team which has proven itself to be better than all of its peers. 

It’s something which can never be taken away from that person and it becomes a central identifier.

That’s if you win one. 

To claim more than one marks you out as a cut above the rest, showing the ability to come back and prove yourself all over again. Not too many people have done it, and naturally the number decreases as you go further up the scale.

We’re honestly not sure how best to describe somebody who has won 18 All-Ireland senior medals, as Rena Buckley now has after Cork’s All-Ireland camogie final win over Kilkenny last Sunday.

In doing so, the Inniscarra camogie and Donoughmore ladies’ football player became the first person to have captained senior All-Ireland-winning teams in both codes. 

The consistent excellence is probably something that we take for granted and it probably won’t be until Rena has retired that her career will be properly appreciated.

This year, she had to make a decision to focus on just one code and opted for camogie over football, with the captaincy one of the deciding factors in that. 

Running a physiotherapy business in Macroom and undertaking a Master’s degree in the discipline too meant that something had to give.

As she said before the All-Ireland though, it wasn’t as if she had a load of free time all of a sudden.

“In one sense, it’s nice that you’re at all the sessions, you’re in with everything, you’re not flying off and worried about matches clashing or anything like that but obviously, I miss the football gang.

“I would say though, even if you are only playing one, you’re still doing an amount of training, so it’s not like I’m sitting at home in the evening drinking tea and saying, ‘I’d love to be out playing football’.”

Cork’s win was a great response to being dethroned by the Cats last year. 

In that game, Gemma O’Connor was sent off late on and this time around it seemed that she would miss out due to an injury sustained in the semi-final win over Galway.

She was passed fit though and tasked with marking Kilkenny star Denise Gaule.

On top of that, she also landed the monster score to tie the game before Julia White – whose absence last year denied Cork a key presence – got the winner.

It was just reward for Cork and manager Paudie Murray – like Buckley, a business-owner yet still capable of devoting time to this endeavour, and doing so successfully – as they got back to the top of the tree. 

And of course it shouldn’t be forgotten that player of the game Orla Cronin may be from Ballineen, but she hails from good Kilbrittain stock.

Next week, barring a draw, will see another All-Ireland title handed out as Dublin take on Mayo to determine the winners of the male senior football championship.

Obviously, Dublin have taken the game to a new level and have been very impressive in winning the Sam Maguire Cup for the last two years but surely there is nobody who would begrudge Mayo finally ending the long wait that goes back to 1951.

Given how they have reached the final, drawing three games – Derry, Cork and Kerry – and beating the Kingdom for the first time since 1996 in the championship, it would be the culmination of a sweet journey, especially given how they were written off on more than one occasion.

Next Monday, there will be a train departing Connolly at 12.05pm. 

Currently, there are four seats on that train booked under the names of Mayo greats like Willie Joe Padden and Ciarán McDonald, just as they have been for the Monday after all of Mayo’s recent final appearances, by four Mayo fans exiled in the capital.

The four seats have yet to be filled, but perhaps they will be next Monday and I can elaborate on the story behind it.