Cork ladies footballers are looking forward to the Munster campaign

Cork ladies footballers are looking forward to the Munster campaign
Saoirse Noonan, Niamh Cotter, Eimear Meaney and Hannah Looney celebrate after the league final. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

IT has been a few weeks since the Cork ladies footballers have played, when they beat Galway in the Lidl NFL final at Parnell Park on May 5.

But manager, Ephie Fitzgerald, will be hoping for more of the same when they start their Munster campaign against Waterford at CIT on Sunday, throw-in 5pm. The following Saturday evening they'll be meeting Kerry at Páirc Uí Rinn.

Cork football manager Ronan McCarthy and ladies football boss Ephie Fitzgerald. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork football manager Ronan McCarthy and ladies football boss Ephie Fitzgerald. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A few weeks off can sometimes see momentum drop and with Waterford already having played a game in this competition Ephie is taking nothing for granted.

On top of preparing for the game he also has to hope that a number of his squad come through the Munster senior camogie final tomorrow and then decide if they are fit to play.

But Ephie takes all these things in his stride and his only concentration is on Waterford at this stage and as he said you can't control these factors.

But he does hope that going forward that camogie and football people will sit down together and help solve these issues of players having to play two top inter-county games in the space of 24 hours.

Other than Doireann O'Sullivan he should have a full squad to pick from. Doireann has been out for the entire league campaign, bar one cameo appearance, with a back injury and it looks like it could be at least July before she is back.

Doireann is captain of the team this year and having a player of her stature injured is a blow to any side. But they won the league without her and they will be hoping to retain their Munster title before she returns for the All-Ireland series.

Speaking ahead of the Waterford game Ephie said that training has been going well and they are looking forward to getting back to playing.

“They are division two league champions and if you look at Donegal they came up two years ago and they could have beaten us in the championship so there is very little between the top teams in division two and division one.

“The lesson really for us is two years ago when they beat us in the Munster championship and then we lost to Kerry and we were out of the championship as quick as lightning after winning the league.

“But I think the girls are focused and I think our panel is stronger now, training has gone very well. We are way fitter then we were five or six weeks ago so all in all, we are looking forward to the game.

“It will be a big challenge for us, but hopefully it will be a big challenge for them as well. We were probably a bit light last year or two in terms of numbers but you look at the players that have come through this year, the likes of Clare O'Shea, Laura O'Mahony, the Kiely twins (Daire and Eimear) and Sadhbh O'Leary.

“They have played in big matches and performed well, so that pushes the other girls on as well. We know that on any given day we have 28-29 girls we can call on and they are not going to weaken things for us.

“I think that was shown in the league final when we were able to bring the likes of Saoirse Noonan, Eimear Meaney and Emma Spillane on, so were absolutely thrilled with that.

“You need a strong panel to compete now, particularly at the level the game is played now. It's very hard for the players to keep up that pace, particularly those around the middle third of the pitch for 60 minutes flat out.

“So we are delighted with our panel going forward. Outside of Doireann we have no long term injuries and there is a lot of competition for places and that's increased the intensity at training.

“But we are fully focused on Sunday now, we take it one competition at a time. At the start of the league we didn't really train and were well beaten by Galway in our first game.

“But we built it up and once we got into our stride things picked up for us and we are in a much better place now, between fitness levels and intensity in training.

“However Waterford have some quality players in the likes of Michelle Ryan, Maria Delahunty and Aileen Wall and they know how to win games well, so we need to be on our guard and fully focused to make sure we don't get turned over.

“Waterford have a particular style of football they like to play and I think their strength is in their attack and from midfield up they are really strong. But we have been very good defensively and will need to continue that on Sunday.

“Outside of the Tipperary match I think our defence has been very good all year, so it will be an intriguing battle on Sunday and they give as much as they can give.

“That's all I can ask of the girls and I think if we do that then we will be hard to beat,” concluded Ephie.

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