The Paudie Kissane column: Ladies footballers have shown adversity can lead to the next level

The Paudie Kissane column: Ladies footballers have shown adversity can lead to the next level
Melissa Duggan of Cork carries the ball away from the Dubs. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

THERE was huge disappointment for the Cork ladies football team last Sunday, and while it's no consolation it must be acknowledged that Dublin just has that edge in different areas of the game.

Dublin’s transition, kick-passing, plus the greater ability to protect the D on the day ensured the Brendan Martin Cup was staying in the capital for another year.

Cork will be disappointed with certain aspects of their performance but from watching the early stages they certainly brought a high work-rate and were intent on allowing Dublin very little time on the ball.

The intensity and physicality of the opening few minutes was massive. Cork had a few sloppy turnovers but they forced Dublin into mistakes also through their tackling and pressure. It took until the sixth minute for the opening score of the game for Dublin.

Whether it was planned or not who knows but it appeared Dublin had a strategy of allowing no Cork player a clear shot on goal. This led to much fouling, with Cork scoring eight points from frees.

Yes, Cork scored a goal through Aine O’Sullivan but this was down to a poor Dublin hand-pass rather than decisive Cork attacking play. It was like Dublin had a mantra of protecting the D at all costs.

The scoreline was close for long stages but it felt that Dublin were able to create scoring chances that bit easier. Cork were relying on the dynamic runs of Eimear Scally and Ciara O’Sullivan to create scores while in contrast, Dublin were able to vary there play more and focus on moving the ball to a person in a better position. This was reflected on the scoreboard with Dublin having five different players scoring from play in contrast to Corks two.

Both teams were working really hard defensively and dropping back. What helped break this down then was the use of the kick pass to transition the ball up the field quicker. It’s not that Dublin used the kick-pass often its just on the day they used it more than Cork to either switch the play or get the ball quicker into the full-forward line.

This created more one on one scenario’s which every forward wants. In contrast, many times a Cork forward had to deal with two or three Dublin players, which made things a lot harder.

Cork used up massive energy through the running game with seemed to affect them come the closing stages. Cork were tiring which made it easier for Dublin to hold possession and close out the game. The experience and hard lessons that Dublin have learnt since 2012, I’m sure helped here.

Doireann O'Sullivan tries to hold off Martha Byrne. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Doireann O'Sullivan tries to hold off Martha Byrne. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Both teams primarily used the short kick-out but I am surprised teams didn’t try and push up more and force the kick-out long. Any time the ball was kicked long it appeared the opposition team had a good chance of wining it. Once Dublin scored a goal they did look to push hard on the next Cork kick-out, increase pressure and force a mistake.

Similar to the men’s game the speed, fitness and conditioning in the ladies game has definitely increased year on year. There was great pace and physicality for the majority of Sunday’s game.

This is the benefit of strength and conditioning programs, which reduces the risk of injury, improves fitness but also to give teams an edge in the tackle contest.

Its not that you want to be taking the ball into contact but if the opposition is organised, bring a high work rate and funnel players back then it is inevitable that you will have to deal with contact.

This gave Dublin a slight edge yesterday, which made a difference in the last quarter as the physicality drained Cork of some badly needed energy. This is not a criticism of Cork as its acknowledged that the present Dublin team is older and more experienced.

The ability to near hand tackle was a highlight of the contest and was displayed many times by both teams. How often the defending player was able to turn a seemingly negative situation into a turnover in her favor. Massive work-rate, composure combined with good skill execution.

Dublin were better but this doesn’t hide the fact that Cork brought so much too to be proud of, which helped make this the great contest it was. What stood out most was the spirit and fight they displayed defensively plus Aine O’Sullivan converted some great scores.

Aine O’Sullivan with Siobhan McGrath of Dublin. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
Aine O’Sullivan with Siobhan McGrath of Dublin. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Cork were behind for long spells but they brought it back to a point heading into the last quarter. Unfortunately then Dublin scored their fortuitous third goal, which put them in the driving seat.

The linking of arms at the final whistle sent out a clear message that this Cork team is one unit and they will certainly be hell-bent on winning back the All Ireland in 2019.

Last weekend also was another great occasion for Irish rowing. To win at highest level in any sport requires at some stage to dig deep and overcome adversity.

That was certainly the case for Irish Rowers Gary and Paul O’Donovan and Sanita Puspure in the single sculls. A pre-championship training camp had not gone well for the O’Donovans, which carried into their semi-final performance, which they struggled through.

Amazingly they were able to turn things around for the final. Winners perform when the need is greatest and with the knowledge they had prepared thoroughly, a gold-winning performance was displayed.

In contrast Sanita had experienced more long-term pain with three successive fourth-place finishes at the World Championships. This was rectified last Sunday as Sanita finished top of the podium.

Cork ladies football is used to success but the adversity last Sunday, I’m sure can drive performances to another level next year.

CONTACT: @paudiekissane or www.pkperformance.ie.

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