CORK have received a massive boost ahead of Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny at Páirc Uí Chaoimh with Gemma O'Connor and Julia White back training.
A winner of nine All-Ireland medals and 10 All-Star awards, O’Connor missed the recent defeat by All-Ireland champions Galway and the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Clare due to a punctured lung.
And White has not featured in any of Cork’s championship outings in the wake of fracturing both her knee-cap and femur in a challenge game against Waterford.
Manager Paudie Murray is thrilled to have them back in the mix.
“Gemma has taken part in four sessions and Julia in three, and neither player has suffered any adverse reaction. So the signs are favourable for them to play some part in the game against Kilkenny.
“When Gemma punctured her lung, the medical advice was that she would probably not be able to return to training for about two months. I think that was the case with the Kerry footballer Tony Brosnan who suffered a similar injury.
“But it’s only about four weeks since Gemma punctured her lung, and her recovery from that mishap shows that she’s a real warrior.”
In addition, dual player Libby Coppinger will be available.
“Libby started in the game against Clare but she picked up a leg injury and we took her off after about 40 minutes. But she has made a good recovery and came through two of our training sessions without any problem.”
Cork have plenty to build on after finishing well in their victory over the Banner.
“With the exception of the fact that we could have sometimes worked the ball closer to the goal before shooting for points, I thought we played very well in the first half against a gale-force wind.
“And then we got well on top in the latter stages of the second half.
“We received some criticism for our second half performance, but people should realise that a game of camogie lasts for 63 minutes and not just for 45 minutes.”
And now for the Cats.
“In recent years we have played Kilkenny on seven occasions and we have won five of those games. So our record against them is good.
“But Kilkenny have come through very comfortably in their games so far and I’m sure that we will have to be at our best to come out on top.”