Simple formula for Cork as a win in Cavan secures All-Ireland semi spot

A WIN on Sunday and the Cork ladies footballers are into the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final.

It’s as simple as that as they put themselves in this position with a hard-fought win over Kerry last Saturday as they now face Cavan in Birr at 1pm.

Whilst Mark Keane’s goal probably grabbed most of the headlines last weekend in Sunday’s dramatic win over Kerry a certain Saoirse Noonan did something similar for the ladies’ side.

Saoirse’s goal came in the second minute but it was a vital score in their 1-14 to 0-14 win over the Kingdom, in a game that was always going to be tight.

Down to 14 with Máire O’Callaghan sin-binned with five minutes to go, she then scored another vital point to put three points between the sides to ensure at the very least Cork would get a draw as Kerry pressed for a winning goal.

Showing she is as adept a soccer player as a footballer she dribbled up the wing before flicking the ball up to point and with it went any chance of Kerry winning.

On Sunday she lined out for Cork City women’s side in the cup semi-final and scored their two goals to see them advance to the final.

So you could say that Saoirse matched Keane and raised him two, but who’s counting on what was a great weekend for the two Cork football sides.

Whilst Saoirse lined out with Cork City on Sunday five members of the football panel were involved with the Cork camogie side on Sunday who lost out to the reigning All-Ireland champions, Galway, in their last group game.

A win here would have suited both the footballers and camogie side as it would have meant the latter would have gone straight to the semi-final, instead of the quarter-final.

So this weekend it now means that football manager, Ephie Fitzgerald, must now wait and see how those players (Hannah Looney, Meabh Cahalane, Fiona Keating, Libby Coppinger, and Ciara McCarthy) come through their camogie tie on Saturday ahead of their game on Sunday.

With both games at 1pm there is a bare 24 hours between the two ties and with some of them having played two full games last weekend it’s going to be a big ask.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new for dual players and they will just get on with it, but it does mean that any side Ephie names could have to change at the last minute.

On paper, Cork will be expected to beat Cavan easily, especially after Kerry hammered them the week before.

But Cavan were missing 10-11 members of their team for Covid-19 and other reasons so they will be a different prospect on Sunday, with most of them back in contention. They will also be out to prove a point that they are a much better side than that showing.

Ephie is wary of the challenge ahead and expects a tough game.

“You can’t take anyone for granted and at this time of the year with the potential conditions you never know what could happen on any day,” said Ephie.

“If you look at the scores overall the games have been very tight, it’s a different type of football altogether to summer football and sometimes you just have to dog it out.

“Having no games for all the squad going into last weekend you don’t really know how sharp you will be, but I thought we were much better in the second half and hopefully that will bring us on ahead of the game on Sunday,” concluded Ephie.

Ephie will be looking for a solid performance in defence, like last weekend, where the likes of Roisin Phelan and Eimear Meaney led by example.

Melissa Duggan was her usual outstanding self and it was no great surprise to see her named Player of the Game as she is, without doubt, one of the top defenders in the game.

Erika O’Shea came on in the first-half at corner-back and she slotted in superbly and at just 17, showed she has a long career ahead of her in the red jersey.

Hannah Looney and Máire O’Callaghan will be looking to dominate midfield and up front the array of talent includes the aforementioned O’Sullivans, along with Noonan and Orla Finn to name a few.

It won’t be easy but expect the Rebels to march on to an All-Ireland semi-final clash with either Galway or Monaghan two weeks later.

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