Leaving the Big Apple for another bite at All-Ireland glory

Should I stay or should I go? That was the decision facing Hannah Looney after she moved to New York when a job opportunity came her way last October. Meant to stay for a year, her love for camogie was telling her otherwise. She was torn between the two, so she called upon a couple of friends to help her out.

“New York was so brilliant because Orla Cotter lived down the road, five minutes. Having Orla’s support from day one was a great comfort, and I had a great community behind me. I was having the time of my life and I don’t regret any of it.

“A big thing I learned, a lot of my identity growing up has been around playing GAA. That is all I have done since 10 or 11 and I don’t regret that either because I made the best friends, had the best experiences. But it was great to be in a big city where GAA was at the bottom of everyone’s agenda and to know I could find myself in different ways.

“In the back of my mind, after the way the camogie final finished last year, it was always kind of lingering. And Matthew (Twomey) would check in every couple of weeks.

“I had a conversation with Orla because I knew I could probably get back to Ireland at the end of May. I was training away. That was another thing I found over there, was a really healthy relationship with exercise. When I am at home, I am doing everything for camogie. You need to eat this and do that, to play camogie or football. Whereas over there, I just pick up my runners and go for a run without the pressure of, I need to train.

“I also ran Briege Corkery and I knew she would be a good one for advice. She has done it all on and off the pitch. I said this is where my head is at, I am going to try to go home for the championship or else stay here. Briege’s advice was, if you have any bit of itch, go back. That made up my mind. I had an itch. And whatever happens on Sunday, I will have no regrets.”

Looney arrived back in Ireland the last weekend in May and joined the Cork camp straight away.

“It has been a whirlwind since I came home. It is like I never left in many ways. It is great for my mindset to be going training and to have that routine since I came back has been brilliant.

“I came home with the intention of giving the All-Ireland a good crack. That is the honest truth, I came back for camogie.

“My company where I work as a chemical engineer, MSD or Merck as they are known in the United States, have been so sound. I knew if I had a conversation with them, they would do their best to help me.

“The obvious goal now is to win the All-Ireland, but it is a big challenge. We are going in as underdogs, which we can’t question with the run Kilkenny have had. They are unbeaten in the championship. They looked very strong in the last 15 minutes of the semi-final, they looked that bit hungrier than Galway.

“Have we played our best, is the question. We all know if we do, we are well able to get over the line. That is the plan and that is the hope.”

Whatever happens, the travel bug may have bitten the Killeagh star.

“New York has opened my horizons. I will probably be based in Ireland for another year or two and reassess again. The desire to travel the world is definitely high on my priority list. With MSD/Merck, there are plenty of opportunities if I want to go back. So, I could see myself taking time out of work and traveling the world. And definitely going back to New York. What I loved about it was that you could be anyone over there and no one bats an eyelid. I kind of fit right in.”


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