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Valerie Mulcahy shoots for goal against Dublin at Croke Park. She was one of the Rebels' most prolific forwards of all time. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Valerie Mulcahy shoots for goal against Dublin at Croke Park. She was one of the Rebels' most prolific forwards of all time. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
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Cork ladies football dream team: Feast of midfielders and forwards to pick from

CONTINUING on from earlier this, where we looked at keepers and defenders, today it’s the turn of the midfielders and forwards who could be part of Cork’s best ladies football team since 1974.

If picking six defenders will be a tough task then the same can be said of midfielders and forwards.

Cork has been lucky to have so many top-class forwards over the years, starting as far back as 1973/74. In one of their first games, against Kerry, Bridie Brosnan was in outstanding form for Cork in a game they lost 5-10 to 4-11. But Bridie had certainly played her part, notching 1-10 on the day.

Bridie played for Knockscovane GAA in the Duhallow Division, sadly a club that no longer exists.

Founded in 1970, Knockscovane Football Club survived almost 40 years, until it became St Joseph’s Meelin Football Club in 2008. The highlight for the ladies section was winning the Duhallow Championship in 1971, one of many successes.

At a function to honour those who had worked hard for the club over the 40 years, Bridie spoke of how the light eventually faded in the ladies section after nearly a decade of success, as emigration and movement to more urban areas for work took its toll.

But her contribution to Cork and her club is one that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Before we move on to forwards we will start with the midfield and there are at least six players that you can consider for the number eight and nine jerseys.

The first name that will be mentioned by many would be Juliet Murphy and it’s hard to blame them.

Juliet Murphy: a winner.
Juliet Murphy: a winner.

As captain of Cork she still holds a record of being the only one to lift the Brendan Martin Cup three years in-a-row, 2005 to 2007 and also was on winning sides in '08, '09, 2011-'13.

She was an All-Star winner on six occasions and also was the Player of the Year in 2011.

If you were writing a resume for someone it couldn’t be much better than that.

But there were plenty of other talented players in the centre of the pitch for the Rebels as well.

Alongside Murphy for many years was Norita Kelly, another outstanding player who often didn’t get the praise she deserved. 

But ask any of the squad and they knew what she did and would have been loud in their praise of her.

Norita Kelly in action.
Norita Kelly in action.

Others who would have lined out there at different times would include Briege Corkery, Rena Buckley and Annie Walsh.

Moving up to the current squad Maire O’Callaghan is another outstanding midfielder and Niamh Cotter has also shown her worth there. Add in Hannah Looney and Cork has been spoiled for choice with potential midfield partnerships.

Moving up to the forwards, and just like all lines, picking six is almost an impossible task.

Like all good forward lines there are prolific scorers and there are others who worked their socks off. They may not feature as much on the scoreboard but without them Cork would not have enjoyed the success it has had since 2005.

Ciara O'Sullivan fires over a score. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Ciara O'Sullivan fires over a score. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A name you could say falls into that category would be Ciara O’Sullivan, who compared to the likes of Valerie Mulcahy or Orla Finn, would not be considered a prolific scorer.

But just go watch Ciara play and see what she brings to the side. Her work ethic is inspirational and on many an occasion when Cork needed someone to lift them it has been Ciara who has done so.

A Munster final a number of years ago comes to mind when Cork were poor in the first-half, but inspired by Ciara they drove on after the break and Kerry didn’t know what hit them. Mary O’Connor, whose famous speech when she collected the cup at Croker will be one that all present won’t forget. Cork had made it five titles in-a-row and her parting line was directed at Kilkenny — ‘We’ll see your four and raise you one.’

Other players that come to mind included Doireann O’Sullivan, Nollaig Cleary, Annie Walsh, Amy O’Shea, Rhona Ní Bhuachalla, Orlagh Farmer, Eimear Scally, Libby Coppinger, Saoirse Noonan and Aine O’Sullivan.

Nollaig Cleary on the break against Monaghan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Nollaig Cleary on the break against Monaghan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Such has been the talent of Cork footballers over the last that they would make inter-county across the country and all would be glad to have them.

So the midfielders up for consideration are: Juliet Murphy, Norita Kelly, Hannah Looney, Niamh Cotter, Maire O’Callaghan, Rena Buckley and Briege Corkery.

Forwards: Valerie Mulcahy, Mary O’Connor, Ciara O’Sullivan, Orla Finn, Rhona Ní Bhuachalla, Doireann O’Sullivan, Nollaig Cleary, Annie Walsh, Amy O’Shea, Orlagh Farmer, Eimear Scally, Libby Coppinger, Saoirse Noonan, Bridie Brosnan and Aine O’Sullivan.

Amy O'Shea on the move. Picture: Maurice O'Mahony
Amy O'Shea on the move. Picture: Maurice O'Mahony