Scally: Cork ladies footballers are ready for major battle against Galway

Scally: Cork ladies footballers are ready for major battle against Galway
Cork's Eimear Scally with the ball against Waterford's Megan Dunford. Picture: Sean Byrne//Deise Sport

SATURDAY, TG4 SFC All-Ireland QF: Cork v Galway, 12.30pm. Live on TG4.

PROVING the doubters wrong drove Cork on to secure their All-Ireland quarter-final place against Galway.

That's according to heroine Eimear Scally, who kicked three superb second-half points against Monaghan a fortnight ago, to ensure that the reigning champions continued on route to potentially earning a seventh successive All-Ireland title.

Galway, however, will have different ideas, but Scally believes that her and her teammates will do everything in their power to ensure a semi-final spot against either against Mayo or Donegal, who do battle after at 2.15pm.

The Tribeswomen know all about 'Scally', who captained the Rebels to minor All-Ireland glory against them in 2015, and who is a previous Munster Young Player of the Year winner.

In 2014, the Éire Óg star was called into Eamonn Ryan's squad, and that September scored the biggest goal of her career, in raising the green flag that instigated Cork's historic 10-point comeback against Dublin in Croke Park. Her father Tom is a selector with this year's All-Ireland-winning minor team alongside head coach John Cleary, while her mother Mary is from footballing territory in Clonakilty, so the UL student was always destined for greatness.

But, her career suffered one of its biggest dents this summer, when Ephie Fitzgerald's side lost two successive Munster championship games, to Waterford and Kerry, meaning that they wouldn't contest the Dairygold Cup for the first time in 15 years.

That, says Scally, was hard to take.

"It was the most depressed I've ever been after a game, after losing to Kerry. I was in shocking form.

"We had a huge second-half and we were up two points with a few minutes to go, but when have the Cork ladies ever given away that lead? It was a lack of concentration that cost us. After a while we had to park it, but I know myself, it was tough to take."

Scally is a fighter having overcome juvenile arthritis as a teenager, and a bout of glandular fever in the last number of years which saw her senior career take a step back, but a regular starter now, she's one of the key leaders in Fitzgerald's side.

Her second-half performance at full-forward against Monaghan in the All-Ireland qualifier two weeks ago was an indicator of that, kicking the last of the Rebels' three points, to win by a point (0-14 to 1-10) "Well, I wasn't up to much in the first-half!" she admits.

"We were holding possession with about four or five minutes to go, which is a long time to be doing that, when we were up a point. But it opened up in the second-half, and Brid O'Sullivan popped in a ball over the top to me, and there was a point scored to put us two points up. That gave us a cushion.

"Looking back, we should have worked a bit smarter up front. We should have been making more diagonal runs, and when we started doing that in the second-half, things started to happen. Defensively though, Bríd Stack was immense at centre-back and drove everyone around her on, and Emma Spillane was lifting at corner-back, and that drives the forwards on then seeing that."

But, Galway will be a tougher battle, in what will be a repeat of the 2015 All-Ireland quarter-final which saw Cork win by two points at the Gaelic Grounds. They claimed the Connacht title a month ago or so over their old rivals Mayo, and Scally watched the live TG4 streaming from afar.

"I was in between watching the Connacht final and the Ulster final that day on the laptop, and Galway's movement was exceptional. Mayo didn't play to their potential and maybe struggled with Galway's pace. They've great players in Olivia Divilly and Tracey Leonard, so we know it'll be a tough game.

"We played them in the league and a challenge match about three months ago, and they were both good games, so look, we know what we're up against, and we're going to have to give everything we've got."

Verdict: Cork

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