Quitting was never an option for captain of the Oakleafers

By Niall Gartland

DERRY ladies captain Joanne Corr has been determined not to let a heart condition stop her from playing the sport she loves.

The Ballymaguigan girl can’t wait for Saturday’s Ulster Junior Championship final against Fermanagh, but her career hasn’t always been plain-sailing and she took a number of years out as a result of an irregular heartbeat.

Unfortunately, she’s had to learn to live with the condition but she says it’s something she can manage and this is her second season as captain of the Derry ladies.

Taking us through her path back to the field of play, Corr said: “When I was 19 I started taking wee turns on the pitch. I went to the doctor and they said I’ve a murmur and irregular heartbeat.

“My heart rate was going well above 200 beats per minute but the problem was it would drop too quickly. I was sent for tests and I haven’t really got an official diagnosis.

“That wasn’t exactly ideal but I wasn’t going to sit in the house and be scundered, so it’s something I have to manage by myself.”

When the games are coming thick and fast during league and championship, it isn’t so much of an issue as by that stage her body is acclimatised to high levels of physical activity.

“An odd time I still feel it coming on, especially in pre-season if I haven’t done much for a month or two. When I’m in the middle of the season, my heart can take more as I’m fitter. I also tend to feel it in my legs first and foremost so I’m able to slow myself down a bit. On the whole it doesn’t give me much bother.”

While Derry only picked up a single win in Division Four this year, they were competitive in most of their matches and they were also playing catch up after the late appointment of Tyrone duo Paddy O’Brien and Damian ‘DD’ McCaffrey as managers.

Corr said: “I think we’ve seen big improvements this year, our panel’s got bigger. The league was a matter of confidence building. We got off to a bit of a late start, we didn’t start training until a few weeks into December, so in a sense the league was like a pre-season for us. We used it to figure out our team and patterns of play so we’re happy enough with how it went.”

Derry have had plenty of experience of playing against their Ulster final opponents Fermanagh down the years, and Corr says that familiarity hasn’t bred contempt.

“It’s always us and Fermanagh, we’re fairly familiar with them. I always enjoy playing Fermanagh, it always ends up a good match.

“They’re a good team but we’re hopeful, we’ve brought in some good players from different clubs across Derry and that’s great as you see what they’re doing with their own clubs.”

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