Women in Sport: The Mayo And Footballing Legend - Cora Staunton
She’s widely acknowledged in GAA circles as a footballing legend and it seems like there is just no stopping 33-year-old Mayo star Cora Staunton.
The talented footballer made her debut on Mayo’s senior county team at the age of just 13 and quickly became one of the most-respected and indeed most-feared names in ladies football.
Opponents dread her, thousands admire her and she’s won nine All-Stars down through the years.
This week, we caught up with the dynamic forward to see how on earth she does it.
“I’ve been playing football since the age of seven,” she began. “I play a bit of rugby and soccer when I have time, but Gaelic is my priority.”
Not only does she have the aforementioned nine All-Star awards under her belt, but the Carnacon player’s medal haul to date is simply astounding.
These include four All-Ireland senior championships, five Connacht championships, three NFL Division one medals, one NFL Division Two medal, five All-Ireland senior club championships, 14 (yes, FOURTEEN) Connacht Club Senior championships and 16 senior club county titles.
On top of all that, Cora has won the Ladies Football Golden Boot Award three times, she was the Western People’s Ladies Footballer of the Year five times, along with a huge and seemingly never-ending list of other awards, underage titles and Player of the Match awards.
We told you she was a bit of a legend!
And it doesn’t end there, she also has a variety of soccer accolades to her name, including winning the Irish Intermediate Cup in 2008 and 2010, and a Connacht League title for rugby in 2014.
We’re getting pretty tired just writing about it so how on earth does she do it all?
“It can be hard sometimes to juggle sport with day to day life and work,” she acknowledged. “I am very lucky as I have a 9-5 job so that helps and I have a very understanding boss. As most sport people will tell you, it’s all about having a routine dedicating time to training and doing your different programmes. That can mean getting up early in morning to get your programme or run done or it means have very little time to do anything else other than work and train,” she continued.
Looking ahead to this year, Cora states they have a lot to aim for this season.
“We are looking forward to the rest of the league, we have won one and lost one so far. Our aim is to retain our Division 1 status and hope to reach the League semi-finals.
“Obviously championship is what it is all about later in the year. In Connacht we are straight through to a Connacht final where we will play Galway, so all of our training is geared towards that and trying to win that.
“After that we will be taking every game as it comes. The dream, as it is with all teams, is to compete in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day."
“Training is pretty intense. At the moment we’re three times out on the field, another two or three sessions in the gym and one or two recovery sessions in the pool.
“I have missed lots of family events and friends parties with football and have had to leave early and not drink alcohol at most of these events, but it’s definitely worth it.
“All the training and sacrifices are definitely worthwhile when you are winning All Ireland's. Most of my really good friends play sports so they understand the sacrifices that you make as they are also making them.
“The highlights of my career are any of my All-Ireland wins with Mayo and Carnacon. Captaining my club to their first All-Ireland in 2002 was very special.
“At times it can be a struggle and hard to keep everything going especially when you get older. But I have always said as long as I am enjoying playing and my body lets me play, I see no point in retiring. As many people say to me, there will be plenty of times that you won’t be fit to play so enjoy it while you can.
An inspiration to many, Cora has her own sporting heroes which include Roy Keane, Ronan O’Gara and Katie Taylor.
And her advice to younger 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.”