ANY time you travel to Tralee to take on a Kerry side at Autin Stack Park then you know you are going to be in for a battle.
And that’s what Cork got as they took on the Kingdom in their opening game in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship.
Kerry came into this encounter full of confidence after their win over Cavan and knowing that if they defeated the Rebels they would be into the semi-final and Cork would be out.
Add in the fact that this was Cork’s first outing and the fact they hadn’t been able to play any challenge games and the odds were slightly stacked in favour of the home side.
But this Cork squad has plenty of talented players and ones that won’t give up and will fight to the end, no matter what the circumstances.
That they did on Saturday and deservedly came out on the right side of the 1-14 to 0-14 scoreline.
Particularly impressive was how they finished out the game when for reasons that only the referee knows Maire O’Callaghan was sin-binned for the last five minutes or so.
Defensively Cork stood strong, led by the likes of Roisin Phelan and Melissa Duggan, but also with the forward line dropping deep to crowd out Kerry,
In the last few seconds corner-forward Saoirse Noonan showed why she is a superb soccer player as well as she dribbled up the wing, leaving the Kerry defence for dead before popping the ball over the bar for the final score.
Considering she had a big game with Cork City on Sunday as well and that run typified the commitment and determination of all the side. She wasn’t thinking about conserving energy for Sunday but just on ensuring Cork got over the line. Noonan also got the crucial goal, in the second minute, that proved to be a vital score in their win.
Afterwards, she was delighted with the win and the work-rate of all to ensure they came out on top.
“It was extremely tough out there, we haven’t had a championship match in over a year and the weather conditions weren’t great. There was a strong wind against us in the first-half so that did affect us but we just had to work hard and we were happy enough to only be a point down at half-time.
“In the second half we upped our aggression levels and kept up the work-rate and we are delighted to get the win in the end.
“We train at a really high intensity and we were a bit below it in the first-half so we knew there was more in us and we upped it for the second-half against a good Kerry side.
“Having a game under our belts now is great and we have another tough one next Sunday against Cavan so we will prepare for that now during the week and hopefully come through that as well.”