IT’S HARD to believe camogie was Clodagh Fitzgerald’s preferred choice of sport up until last year, considering what the 16-year-old has achieved recently.
The Cork City goalkeeper has picked up a Player of the Tournament accolade in the FAI Schools five-a-side at the Aviva, 11 international caps from between U15, U16 and U17, and made her senior debut under Danny Murphy at the age of 15. The sky is the limit for this rising star and former Lakewood player.
“I only joined when I was nine but I was always kicking a ball around outside. I was asked to play in goal on my first training session and I’ve been in there ever since. I remember playing in Turner’s Cross for the first time when I was 12 and to be playing there now as my home ground is pretty surreal.”
She reached that five-a-side tournament with Ovens National School.
“I won player of the tournament and even though we came third I won’t ever forget that day. Another big day was the Munster Schools and getting selected for that squad. We went on to win the inter-pros and I suppose this all helped me to enjoy football more.
“My love for football didn’t really come until last year as I always preferred camogie with Éire Óg.”
The transition year Coláiste Choilm student is still eligible to play U17 but has become a key player for Danny Murphy’s senior squad.
“I was called up to be on the squad against Wexford in Turner’s Cross however my first time playing with the seniors was a friendly against Hibernian. I then made my debut against Galway in the first match back after the break. I remember the nerves that day were bad. It was an amazing feeling to be named in the squad, and although the result didn’t go our way it was a great day for me personally.
“The squad is very young but I look up to all the girls on the team, playing with the likes of Ciara McNamara, Eva Mangan and Jesse Mendez. I’ve learned a lot from Hannah Walsh as well in goal. I learn from the girls not just on the pitch but off it as well and how they carry themselves. They are true role models to me and all the young girls in Cork.”
It can’t be easy being in between the posts for a side struggling at the bottom of the league, Fitzgerald was quick to point out that positives are taken from every loss.
“It’s certainly not easy losing all the time and trying to get motivated for the new week but I’ve only come into the squad recent enough and I’ve only had to deal with a couple of losses to be fair. I know the girls have been dealing with it for the majority of the season so credit to them for continuing to staying positive and working harder every week.
“I think it’s just about using the loss as motivation and taking our positives and focusing on what we can improve on. I do believe we are improving as a team and starting to play better football.”
Her aims for the rest of the season are to stay in the senior squad, keep at least two clean sheets and finish out the season on a high.
“The team has massive potential and talent. It is a very young squad compared to other teams in the league. Even the best teams in the world need to improve on things but I think for this team it’s just about getting the basics right and doing the simple stuff more effectively. We should be focusing more on our play and less on our opposition.
“I was recently away in Portugal representing the Irish U17 team and it was a fantastic experience again. We played three friendlies against Portugal, Poland and Scotland. This was a massive deal for myself and my parents as I was honored to be selected for the squad.
“It was a friendly competition, but hopefully I will get selected for the Euro qualifiers in Poland. It’s what I will be working hard for and hopefully my performances for Cork City will help me get there.”