CORK senior football star Melissa Duggan concluded her 2019 playing season by captaining the Munster senior ladies to inter-provincial glory for the second successive season recently.
The Dohenys football ace was thrilled to lead the provincial side to senior inter-provincial glory following their comfortable win against Connacht.
“It is always a great honour to represent your province. It is unreal to play with so many top players. It was a great honour to captain the team to victory,” revealed the modest footballer.
Melissa has enjoyed a brilliant season this year for both her club team and the Rebels. She was recognised for her consistently brilliant displays when she won a deserved All-Star award recently. Melissa was also named the Munster Ladies Footballer of the Year for 2019. Melissa was delighted to claim her first All-Star award.
“It was such a fantastic honour to win an All-Star award not only for me, but for my family and for my local club, the Dohenys, as well. They have all supported me so much throughout the last year and to celebrate with this award is just incredible.
“I was determined this year to improve my running game from last year and become more confident breaking out of defence. I put in a lot of hard work and effort to improve these aspects of my game including simple stuff like just soloing in straight lines and at angles. I also stepped up the individual gym sessions to get stronger.
“It is great that all my hard work has paid off with winning an All-Star.”
The West Cork footballer was joined by her proud family members for the annual awards banquet which was held in the CityWest Hotel. She is very grateful to all her family members for their constant support.
“I had lots of family members at the awards ceremony. We had a great night. My family love going to the games throughout the year so when my name was called out it was an extra special moment.
“All my family love football. They travel everywhere.
“For instance my mother and my aunt got the 5am air coach to meet me in Dublin and then I drove to Kinnegad for the Interprovincial Tournament. Unfortunately my father had to stay at home milking the cows, but there were hourly updates sent home.
“They have been so supportive to me ever since I started playing football with Cork by driving me to matches and training. My sisters also go above and beyond for me collecting me at the train station before training and letting me stay at their house after training.
“My sister Aprille used to take me to the train station at 5.50am every Thursday morning so I could get the Dublin train.
“These selfless acts makes me appreciate my family so much and everything that they do for me. That’s why every time I put on the Cork jersey, I go out and play my best not only for my teammates, but for my family as well.”
Kinsale star foward Orla Finn also picked up an All-Star at the TG4 awards ceremony. Duggan was delighted for her Cork colleague.
“It was brilliant that the two West Cork girls received All-Stars this year. Orla is an incredible player. She is a true inspiration at training. She is such a hard worker.
“Her commitment and dedication to Cork is something I admire. She is the one person you can guarantee will be out on the pitch 30 minutes before training working on her shooting. She was the top scorer in the championship this year so it goes to show if you do the extra things you will reap the rewards.
“Orla is the type of player I have looked up to ever since I started with Cork. To be on the same All-Star team as her is very special for me.”
Melissa produced a series of stellar displays for the Cork and Dohenys footballers this season. She is widely regarded as one of the best markers in the game, while her barnstorming runs out of defence are an integral part of the Leesiders’ game plan.
“I am happy with how this year went, but I know there is still room for improvement. This was my third season playing with Cork and the past two years definitely helped me build on my form for this year.
“James Masters would do soloing drills with me at the end of training sessions in January and February which really helped me throughout the league. We did extra running sessions, which I did on my own up in Dublin which enhanced my fitness and stamina.
“I felt really fit towards the end of the league and the start of the championship. That was also a big factor in my strong season.”
Cork football is thriving at present. The Mourneabbey senior ladies recently captured the All-Ireland senior football title. Melissa was thrilled to see them go all the way for the second consecutive season.
“It is fantastic for Cork that we have a club like Mourneabbey. They are such incredible role models. They have experienced heartbreak so many times, but for them to win successive All-Ireland finals this year is great. I was delighted for the girls, because I know the effort these girls have put in all year.”