The Camogie Association was celebrating a new record attendance for a stand alone All Ireland Finals Day on Sunday.
The Three finals at Croke Park saw 30,191 through the turnstiles with a particularly strong attendance for the Glen Dimplex Senior Final between Cork and Waterford.
It was Waterford’s first final at this level for 78 years and the fans of the Deise turned up in their thousands.
The last time Waterford were there the attendance at Cappoquin was less than 10 per cent of what it was on Sunday.
The Final moved to Croke Park for the first time three years later, in 1948 but it was 1996 before the attendance broke 10,000 for the first time in a standalone Camogie fixture, when Galway beat Cork to claim their first ever title.
Ten years later it nudged over 20,000 and in 2019 the old record of 24,730 was set.
A small dip post Covid saw 23,426 in the grounds last year but the novelty of Waterford was a big winner, together with a strong campaign across clubs, and the new record will now be the benchmark hopefully for continued growth in support for what is always an exciting, and noisy, day out.
Cork captain Amy O’Connor scored 3-7 from ten shots. These included five points from frees, when she revealed afterwards she “couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo” the day before.
The three goals arrived in two minutes at the start of the second half and having already led by 1-9 to 0-3 at half-time, with Sorcha McCartan goaling for Cork and Beth Carton wide from a penalty at the other end just before the change of ends, it was game over.
“Very proud for day for me obviously,” said O’Connor. “Come from quite a small junior club on the north side of the city. We haven’t had too much success at club level. So it is nice to be able to do something like this and represent the club and the area.”
“I didn’t realise I had scored a hat-trick until somebody said it after the match which is probably a good thing because we were so focussed on the next ball, the next pass whatever it might be. That might sound clichéd but that’s the way we drove it for the last three, four months. It was a building process, everything was a process. We were adaptable the whole time and our focus was always on the next thing, the next thing.”
“I actually went practising frees yesterday. I don’t think one went over the bar. I suppose you do have days where everything you hit goes over and it’s nice to have those days because they don’t come around too often.”
Many people were pleased for manager Matthew Twomey, who has had a long involvement with the squad as a selector and succeeded Paudie Murray as head man last season.
“We went through a bad patch in the middle of the year and I suppose a lot of people wrote us off,” Twomey noted. “In our own way we used that as a spur. After we got beaten by Galway in Athenry (in the first game of the round-robin phase) we had a real long chat with ourselves.”
“We were going into the Down game under pressure, the Clare game under pressure and every game we have been under ferocious pressure. Even today we were under fierce pressure coming up. These players are just incredible the more their backs were to the wall the better they got. What we got today they totally deserve. They have just been immense.”
Cork beat Galway and Kilkenny, the last two winners on their road to this final so it could be said they had to win three finals.
Doing the last of them in front of a record crowd was a sweet return to the Hogan Stand for a first time since 2018.