'I know there is uproar that GAA is going ahead but as a player, I can't wait...'

CORK ladies’ football star, Orla Finn, is looking forward to the championship getting underway, with the Rebels’ first game against Kerry on November 7.

She was speaking at the launch of a landmark partnership between the GAA and The Marketing Hub to produce a lifestyle clothing collection for GAA fans, which will be marketed through www.ganzee.ie.

Orla understands the worries that people have around Covid-19 and, as a teacher, is well aware of what the virus can do. But speaking on a personal level, she is looking forward to getting back playing and is hopeful that the championship will be played to a conclusion.

“It’s great, really, and, personally, I am delighted that it’s going ahead and when we were allowed go back training, in September, it seemed a very long time to our first championship game,” Orla says.

“But the time has gone really quickly and training has been going well, so we are all looking forward to playing Kerry on November 7. Over the last few weeks, I have gone through days where I think it’s going to go ahead and the next day I would be fearful things might be pulled.

“We are so close to it now that I do hope it goes ahead now. I know there is a lot of uproar around the country that the inter-county scene is going on and nearly everything else is locked down. But, as a player, I am delighted games are on.

“I think things might die down once the games start; there is a lot of interest in inter-county GAA and, hopefully, it can help to get people through some of the winter.

“Even if they have to watch on telly or if it’s players and management having Zoom meetings, instead of face-to-face chats, at least there will be something for people to look forward to at weekends.

“This year, it’s a little bit different, with it being a winter championship and, as such, almost a straight knock-out. We have Kerry and Cavan to play and we have to top the group to even get to a semi-final, so we can’t afford to slip up,” Orla says.

“I suppose, we will take every game as it comes and we can’t look beyond them. Dublin will be the favourites and I think we would only face them if we got to the final. We have two group matches and then, if we get through them, a semi-final to play before we can even think about facing them in the final, but they are the defending champions.

“They are flying it, but there are other counties pushing on, as well, and in ladies’ football there is not much between a few teams,” Orla says. “You simply can’t afford to lose any game, so it will be hell-for-leather once it gets going.

“Anything can happen on a day in a game and you have to be mentally prepared for your own battle. We might be considered to have a slight advantage, as Kerry and Cavan play first, so we get the chance to look at them, but, really, it’s not much of an advantage; it will all come down to the day.

“I think we will have a big challenge against us against Kerry and the following week against Cavan.”

Speaking on the dual-player problem that several counties face, but Cork, in particular, Orla says: “To be honest, I can’t believe that things are still this way in this day and age. It’s very disappointing that the two organisations can’t just sit down together and sort dates. The girls aren’t even looking for different weekends; they literally are only looking for 24 hours between the games.

“It’s not fair on them to be asked to pick between the two teams, after all the hard work and training they put in, so, hopefully, they will find some sort of resolution to it.

“But it can happen in one code as well. A few years ago, I had to play an All-Ireland final on Sunday, a county final with my club, Kinsale, on the following Tuesday, a Munster club championship game on Saturday, and on Sunday had to play a Cork senior championship semi-final with West Cork.

“That’s not right, either. We won on Sunday and I had to stop my celebrations to prepare for the game on Tuesday, but we won that and the Munster championship game, so it was a good week that way, but, still, the games shouldn’t have been scheduled that way,” Orla says.

“Looking forward to the next few weeks, we have a massive panel this year and we will need it, with players possibly having to step out with Covid or other reasons.

“The lack of football over the summer has seen players come back hungry and wanting to win and put in everything for the team and we can’t wait to get going.”

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