Caitriona Cormican thought her chances of playing senior camogie for Galway were over.
A talented dual-player, the Cappataggle star was recognised more for her exploits on the football field. Her forays with the camogie side only ever stretched as far as the intermediate team.
In 2018, the GP was asked to come into the Galway senior setup. Only, it was as the team doctor. A year later however she was playing a starring role as they captured the All-Ireland title.
“It was crazy, a complete dream come true,” Cormican said ahead of Episode Three of AIB’s The Toughest Summer.
“Not even a dream because I wouldn’t have even thought that it would happen. A couple of years ago, I was asked to be the team doctor, so at that stage, I thought well I’ll never play senior camogie for Galway.
“Then I was lucky enough to get asked in the next year and I couldn’t have predicted what was going to happen so it was just unbelievable, all my dreams came true really.”
Now that she’s finally won one, Cormican has no desire to stop winning.
“My aim would be to win another All-Ireland! All along, my aim was to win one, but now that you have one, you want more! As long as everyone’s safe and healthy, that’s what I’d be happy with and we’ll take it from there.”
Of course, keeping people safe and healthy is about more than sport. As a doctor, Caitriona Cormican has been at the coalface of the ongoing pandemic.
“It was a very, very strange few months.
“Initially when we got the news that it hit Ireland it was a very worrying time and we just didn’t know what was in store for us. We were seeing other countries like Italy and worrying that could be us.
“We didn’t know if our hospitals would be able to handle the numbers if they rose too high. Overnight we had to change the way we worked as GPs, our normal day-to-day is loads of face-to-face contact and that helps make the special bond you have with your patients.
“Overnight we had to change to phone and video consults and that was solely for the safety of patients and staff. It was a very challenging time. When you’re so used to seeing people every day and then to be doing consults over the phone was challenging.
“But you did adapt to it and now the last few weeks we’re seeing a lot more patients face-to-face which is great. Everyone is wearing masks and were all gowned up but it’s great to get a bit of normality back and do what we love again and be able to have that connection.”
For Caitriona Cormican, the decision to go down the route of GP work comes back to having that special bond with one’s patients.
“Yeah, so I would have done six years at college. We’d get a taste of everything and I remember doing a GP spell out in Oughterard and I just loved it because you just got to really know people.
“The bond that I witnessed from the GP there with his patients. He knew the grandkids and he’d be telling stuff about the patients. That was something that I was drawn to. So early on I knew I wanted to be a GP.
“I applied for the Western scheme, the General Practice Training Programme and I was lucky enough to be accepted on that scheme. That’s a four-year training scheme so I finished that in April of last year. [It was] 11 years of training but I’m delighted, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”
Cormican added by regaling a story from only yesterday where a hurling mad patient recognised her, even through the face mask.
“I love the bonds, especially with the sport. Yesterday, I had the mask on and this man said to me: ‘Do I recognise you from somewhere?’ I said: ‘No, I don’t think so.’ And he said: ‘Do you play camogie?’ so then we ended up having a chat for a good while about camogie and hurling so it’s great.
“It’s a great thing to have but I love the way you can have a connection with your patients, you know their families. You feel a part of them.”
Listen to the guidelines
With sport having slowly made its way back into our lives. The Galway star is calling upon the entirety of the island to come together. Caitriona Cormican is asking that we follow government guidelines to ensure that normality is restored sooner rather than later.
“I know we’re in this month now and people are probably saying, ‘When is this going to end?’ But, you know, the guidelines that are in place and what they’re advising, it is for our own safety.
“We don’t have any magic tablet, we don’t have a vaccine yet. So the only thing that can prevent the spread is us as humans and following what we’re being advised to do.
“So it is really, really important. I know people just want to get back to normality, they want to get back to their friends and everything like that. But we won’t be able to if we don’t follow what’s being instructed.
“And I know it’s difficult. But at least we are someways back to normality. The guidelines are letting people meet in small groups and we are being able to be back to sports and if we want to continue this then we really have to be diligent and follow the guidelines that are in place.”