What We Do in Life Echoes In Eternity

 

The quote from Gladiator rings true when you think of Cora Staunton, one of the greatest players ever to pull on a Mayo LGFA jersey. Surely one of the best sportswomen this country has produced? Since 1996 Cora has scored a scarcely believable 59-483 in 67 championship games. Will her likes be seen again in terms of career longevity and scoring prowess? The stats are incredible. And by the way, although she’s Australia bound for a new adventure with GWS Giants AFLW team, she’ll be back in April to hook up with Mayo, again!

 

Google her name:

“Cora Staunton scores 4-13 but Carnacon have to settle for a replay”

“Did she mean it? Cora Staunton lobs 6 players with close-range free” 

“Sydney-bound Staunton inspires Carnacon to title - Independent.ie”

 

When Cora joins up with GWS Giants’ AFLW team in Australia, she becomes only the second Irish woman to play Aussie Rules, the first thing to come to terms with is the Sherrin football. No doubt she’ll be attached to the ball, immersed with it and inseparable.

 

Anyone that has watched her mastery of the round ball and her exceptional kicking technique will know she has the repertoire to make herself comfortable in a short period of time. Where male Irish imports had a couple of years to acclimatise to the ball, Cora will have matter of weeks but Giants coach Nicholas Walsh is confident she can do it and contribute in a specific role.  

 

Cora has also of course played soccer and rugby so she is eminently adaptable to other sports.

 

The link with GWS is of course former Cavan footballer Nicholas Walsh. It was with Walsh that Cora first casually discussed a move to Australia a couple of years ago. Malachy Clerkin in the Irish Times described their discussion

 

“In all honesty, it started as a joke. Nicholas Walsh was at the Asian Games in Shanghai last November as a guest of the GAA. For the past six years, the ex-Cavan footballer has worked for the AFL’s youngest franchise, the Great Western Sydney Giants. Cora Staunton was there too, as a brand ambassador for the tournament.

Somewhere along the way, they fell into conversation. Walsh had recently started a role with the Giants’ newly-formed women’s team ahead of the inaugural season of the women’s AFL and their first squad had been put together only a fortnight or so earlier. Out of mischief more than anything, he teased her that they could always do with a handy full-forward should her feet ever got itchy. Staunton laughed it off but kept asking questions about the new league all the same.” Malachy Clerkin, The Irish Times

 

The rest as they say is history. Having kept in touch Walsh felt that Cora could solve a scoring problem, she was up for something new and on 18th October was drafted as the 45th and second last pick. This week, the start of December she starts a new chapter in her career. Her brother and his family live nearby and she spends Christmas in Oz.

She leaves Ireland as a superb role model for the Ladies Game. A player who perhaps only recently has got the plaudits she deserves, but one that young players female and male can learn from. As Cora told Her.ie on her advice to young players.

 

“I’d tell them to listen to their coaches as they are the people you will learn from. Believe that you can achieve your dreams as anything is possible and practice your skills all the time - both left and right.”

 

Her career has had its ups and downs, and she flags winning all Ireland’s with Mayo and her club Carnacon as the obvious highlights. She has described captaining the club to their first All-Ireland in 2002 as ‘very special’.

 

She leaves Ireland Australia bound, with all our good wishes for 2018. Ádh mór Cora.