Huge boost for Cork ladies football as star player set to return to the squad

Huge boost for Cork ladies football as star player set to return to the squad
Cork's Roisin Phelan in action against Galway in 2017PIC: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

In a huge boost to Cork, Roisin Phelan has returned to the squad for the season, having been marked absent last year due to work reasons.

She was considered the best full-back in the game before she had to take a year out as work took Roisin to Dublin and she was unable to commit to the panel.

Her inclusion will give manager, Ephie Fitzgerald, the option of playing Hannah Looney further out the field, as she did a superb job in filling in for Roisin last year.

Looney was outstanding in that role, but her inclusion at midfield for the game on Saturday will give Cork another option around the middle of the park as she adds her considerable experience and physicality to it.

Mourneabbey's Brid O'Sullivan makes a return to the red jersey, having not played for a number of years and making her league debut at senior level is Kinsale's Caoimhe O'Leary, with clubmate Sadhbh O'Leary and Laura Cleary also getting more valuable game time.

Regulars like Martina O'Brien, Melissa Duggan, Orla Finn and Marie O'Callaghan are all due to start tomorrow.

But whilst the occasion is historic it won't matter much to manager, Ephie Fitzgerald, if they don't come out on the right side of the result.

Last season they got off to a dreadful start when they lost at home to Galway and he certainly won't want a repeat of that tomorrow.

Cork’s Roisin Phelan with Yvonne McMonagle of Donegal in 2018PIC Credit ©INPHO/Tom Beary
Cork’s Roisin Phelan with Yvonne McMonagle of Donegal in 2018PIC Credit ©INPHO/Tom Beary

For the start of the league campaign, he will be missing some key players with Ciara O'Sullivan already confirming she won't be available for most, if not all, the league campaign and her sister, Doireann, won't feature tomorrow either.

Whilst the occasion is one to savour Cork's priority will be to get off to a winning start and they should be too strong for the visitors on this occasion.

Speaking on behalf of Cork GAA, chairperson Tracey Kennedy said: “Cork County Board is delighted to be able to facilitate this double-header at Páirc Uí Chaoimh today.

“It’s a very special occasion, as these will be the first inter-county games played on the new pitch surface, and it’s wonderful to have both our men’s and women’s teams involved. I look forward to many more of these double-headers in the future.” Captain of the Cork senior ladies team, Doireann O’Sullivan, added: “First of all, it’s a huge stepping stone for us, and with that bit of history as well.

“Everybody was disappointed when that was, unfortunately, and through nobody’s fault, taken away from us last year.

“We’re really looking forward to it and when you think of the great players who went before us who didn’t have this opportunity, we’re really lucky.

“There’s the added bonus that it’s a double-header and hopefully there will be a good crowd at it.

“It’s a stepping stone for ladies football and for Cork as well. We’re delighted with it.” The LGFA has also confirmed that the top two finishers will progress straight to the finals in each of the divisions. The finals will be played on the weekend of April 18/19.

Cork: M O'Brien; M Ambrose, R Phelan, C O'Callaghan; S Kelly, A Hutchings, M Duggan; M O'Callaghan, H Looney; L Cleary, B O'Sullivan, O Farmer; S O'Leary, A T O'Sullivan, O Finn.

Subs: L Crowley, E Cleary, L O'Mahony, N Cotter, S Noonan, L Coppinger, E Scally, E Kiely, E Meaney, A O'Mahony, S Hayes, D Kiely, C O'Shea, A Kelleher.

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