CORK and Éire Óg’s Eimear Scally is hoping to build on her county’s opening All-Ireland SFC Group 1 victory with a similar result against Armagh.
Ephie Fitzgerald’s side got their All-Ireland campaign off to a positive start at the expense of Cavan in Mullingar last weekend. Cork amassed 6-19 with Eimear Scally scoring 1-2 but the inter-county forward admits Cork have plenty of work to do before their next outing today.
“The pace Cavan started at, I didn’t know if they were going to be able to keep it up for the whole game to be honest with you,” Scally mentioned.
“I guess we just stuck to our own game plan, kept going and pushed away from them heading towards half time. We were 9 points ahead at that stage and happy with our overall performance in the end.
“Conceding 3-8 gives us plenty to work on ahead of facing Armagh. Then again it was our first All-Ireland championship game. There were obviously going to be a few mistakes. Having things to work on is a good thing for any team though.”
One glance at the Cork substitute’s bench from the Cavan game underlines the point that competition for places has never been fiercer. Ephie Fitzgerald has a vast array of attacking talent at his disposal so Scally knows performance levels cannot drop if she wants to retain a first-team place.
“Any bit of backs and forwards during our training sessions, the forwards are looking to score at every chance. We have to if we want to keep our place,” Scally admitted.
“I mean, Ephie was able to bring on Rhona (Ní Bhuachalla) and Doireann (O’Sullivan) against Cavan. It was brilliant to see them coming on, especially Doireann after all her injuries, but that just shows you the depth of our squad right now.
“The entire panel’s form has been consistent this year so everyone is pushing for a starting place. To have every player in top form, fully fit and training together is only going to bring us on.”
Next up is Armagh today, a side that racked up 6-8 but still came out on the losing side to the same Cavan team Cork defeated last weekend. A cracking game looked to going Armagh’s way only for Cavan to reel in an 11-point second-half deficit and Aishling Maguire’s converted injury-time free win it for the lake county.
Despite the loss, the old adage that there are no easy games against Northern teams is just as apt when it comes to ladies football. Eimear Scally agrees and is not underestimating Cork’s next opponents in the slightest.
“Obviously, you have to do your homework and analysis against whatever team you are playing, so Armagh will be no different,” the Éire Óg star stated.
“Having said that we try to focus on our own game and not worry too much about the other team. There is no doubting that they have a lot of good players that we are going to have to keep an eye on.
“Aimee and Bláithín Mackin are two that spring to mind. I mean, Aimee scored 3-4 against Cavan so we know we will have our hands full with her. It will be another good test for us considering how potent their forward line is.”
Thankfully for Cork, Scally is in excellent form and converted a penalty in the win over Cavan. The Éire Óg forward hasn’t taken over the responsibility on a permanent basis but will happily step forward if called upon again.
“No, I’m not the resident penalty taker especially as Saoirse Noonan would probably have taken it had she been on the pitch at the time,” Scally commented.
“I’m happy enough to step up if asked but Saoirse is so good at taking them, we don’t usually have to worry about converting when she’s there.
“As for Armagh, there have been a couple of surprise results already this year so we have to be on our guard. Just look at Tyrone’s performance against Donegal. It is really encouraging for the ladies championship to see teams stepping up.
“We just want to keep building momentum. People probably expect us to beat Armagh but you just don’t know what will happen on the day. As a player, you have to be both mentally and physically prepared to meet the challenge.
“We have been going well in training yet that will count for nothing, as I said if we don’t put in a performance the next day.”