After West Cork glory, Áine O'Sullivan is fully focused on All-Ireland honours

After West Cork glory, Áine O'Sullivan is fully focused on All-Ireland honours

Roisin Daly of Tipperary in action against Áine O’Sullivan of Cork in Clonmel. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

ÁINE Terry O'Sullivan is eager to finish the year off on a high with West Cork having already achieved county final glory in 2020.

The Allihies native captained West Cork to their first Cork LGFA senior club championship title at the expense of Mourneabbey last September.

O’Sullivan played a pivotal role in her division’s success having also lined out for Beara in the intermediate county championship earlier in the season.

It has been an unprecedented year but, winning a county aside, the West Cork forward is glad that the Cork LGFA championships were completed.

Áine O'Sullivan battles Mary Leahy for Aghada. Picture: Denis Boyle
Áine O'Sullivan battles Mary Leahy for Aghada. Picture: Denis Boyle

“Going back to the start of the year, no one knew if we would even be kicking a football so to get our club championships finished was brilliant,” Áine Terry O’Sullivan told The Echo.

“You would feel sorry for the men’s football championships as they have yet to be finished out. That makes us even more thankful as we're able to complete our competitions and obviously, win a first senior county.

“It was a long road for West Cork, our fifth year on the go and my fourth on the panel. Winning the county meant a lot to the girls on the panel though and a great reward for our management team too having come so close in 2018 and 2019.

“Being captain was extra-special as I got to bring the cup back to Allihies and my club Beara. That was definitely a positive in such a strange 2020.” 

Covid-19 was the cause of two separate calendars for club and county this past year but that helped ease the demands on the Stryker employee.

“It was nice (having two calendars) especially for us as we were playing for both Beara and West Cork,” the Cork inter-county forward said.

“Granted, Beara were knocked out of the championship early enough but having no inter-county commitments meant there was a lot less travelling involved at that time.

“Once the county final was over, we had a Cork team meeting the following Wednesday. Everyone’s focus was fully on the inter-county from that moment on. We were back training the following Friday but our first game wasn’t until November 7 which gave us a good month and a bit to prepare.

“Obviously, all our challenge matches were pulled a few weeks ago and we only managed to get one in against Dublin.

“That means we haven’t had the most ideal of preparations but the competition for places is fierce at the moment. Our own internal training session games are very intense but that’s the way you want it.

“Only a few of the girls would be used to playing at this time of the year with their clubs but for the majority of us it is still a bit strange to compete during winter. Adapting is what it is all about.

“We are being kept busy and everyone is enjoying themselves, especially with an All-Ireland semi-final to look forward to.” Cork’s upcoming encounter with last year’s All-Ireland runners-up, Galway, will be a repeat of the 2019 National League decider.

The Rebels won 1-12 to 2-7 on that occasion but the Connacht side remain a serious threat and will pose Ephie Fitzgerald and his player’s toughest test of the year to date.

O’Sullivan has formed a lethal full-forward line alongside Mourneabbey’s Doireann O’Sullivan and Nemo Rangers’ Saoirse Noonan as Cork overcame Kerry and Cavan to reach this season’s All-Ireland semi-finals.

Defeating two quality opponents was achieved amid difficult weather conditions.

“The wind and rain have been something else but that’s no harm as that’s what we will probably be facing into against Galway,” O’Sullivan noted.

“You can see how the weather has been in all the other football and hurling games on television over the past while. The pitches too, the one in Tralee was in excellent condition whereas the one above in Birr was a lot heavier on the legs.

“The next game is on in Limerick so it is a case of being as prepared as we can for whatever conditions will be like on the day. Hopefully, we can come through the next couple of weeks unscathed and be ready for Galway when the time comes.” The two sides are no strangers to one another but Áine Terry respects what the Tribeswomen have achieved over the past number of years.

Manager Tim Rabbitt added former Mayo equivalent Frank Browne to his backroom team at the beginning of the season. Galway do not lack experience on the side-lines and needed every ounce of that trait to see off Monaghan in their previous championship outing.

“Galway are a great team and remember they got to last year’s All-Ireland final,” O’Sullivan said.

“They have so many good footballers and we know exactly what we will be up against. We played them in last year’s National League final and it was a close game but we managed to pull through.

“Galway would have been our next opponents in this year’s league before everything was called off. They were top of Division 1 at that stage so that shows how good a team this is.

“They have had two very tough group games to get to the semi-finals including a huge battle with Monaghan. Our Kerry and Cavan games were tough as well so look, it is going to be close but hopefully, we will have enough to get over Galway.”

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