CLONAKILTY and Valley Rovers begin their Munster Championship campaigns with difficult ties against Kerry and Waterford opposition this weekend.
It is only a few short weeks since Clonakilty (intermediate) and Valley Rovers (junior A) tasted Cork ladies football county glory.
Now, assuming there are no Covid-related postponements, both clubs will participate in the opening rounds of the Munster championship this weekend.
Valley Rovers travel to Waterford to take on the county’s junior A champions, Tramore, on Sunday afternoon. Playing in the provincial competition is a welcome bonus for Valley’s efforts over the past 12 months according to Coach Denis Mulvihill.
“We have been back training for a couple of weeks and the players are really enjoying it,” Mulvihill said.
“Playing in Munster is a bonus for them. If we can bring what we brought against Douglas in the county (junior A) final then we can’t ask any more of the girls, to be honest. If we play as well as we did against Douglas then we would like to think we will be there or thereabouts against Tramore on Sunday.
“There are a couple back studying in Mary I so we certainly haven’t been getting the numbers out training that we had coming up to this year’s county final. Having said that, most of the players train with us on the weekends so we can’t complain. There are a few others like the Kiely’s, Daire and Eimear, back on inter-county duty now as well. Look, we can’t complain and are just happy to have football at this stage of the year.
“Even with all the talk of a possible lockdown in Cork, I believe under the current guidelines, that elite teams’ games in the Munster championship will go ahead. What’s likely to happen is that those games will be played behind closed doors. We are banking on the game going ahead and treating it (our preparations) accordingly.”
2020 Intermediate champions Clonakilty face a similarly tough test on Saturday afternoon. The West Cork club welcome Kerry champions Finuge/St Senans to Ahamilla. The visitors include Irish rugby 7s international star Louise Galvin amongst their ranks and Clon manager JJ Deasy is expecting the toughest of challenges.
“Finuge/St Senans were pretty impressive in winning the Kerry intermediate title,” Deasy commented.
“I suppose Louise Galvin is their marquee player but they have plenty of other good footballers as well. So, they got it right, tactically, against Castleisland Desmond. They were very impressive going forward and will be a big challenge for us.
“We gave our players a few days off after winning the intermediate championship and then we just got back to training once again. We are keeping it (preparation) low key and not travelling away to play challenge matches or anything like that.
“Some of the girls are heading back to college, some are around and some aren’t. It is a step into the unknown really because all we know about our opposition is what we have seen online. Similar to us, they weren’t the favourites going into their final. We are well up for the challenge and it could be a very good game on Saturday. There are a few injuries but we have prepared fairly well. We will give it a shot and see where that takes us.”
As with Valley Rovers, Clonakilty regards qualification for the Munster championship as a bonus having achieved their main goal of securing senior club football a few weeks ago.
“Playing in the Munster Championship is an absolute bonus for Clonakilty,” JJ Deasy admitted.
“Our target, as we progressed through the championship, was to win the county. Against the odds, we achieved that goal and are very much in bonus territory right now. If we do progress in this (Munster) championship, it will be absolutely fantastic but our main target for the year has already been met. Clonakilty will play senior football in Cork next year which will be a huge step up.
“Playing Finuge/St Senans is a step into the unknown and we will just have to focus on our own game. Hopefully, our quality will be enough to take us through to the next round.”