THE Cork camogie team are preparing for Sunday week’s All-Ireland final against Kilkenny without talismanic centre-back Gemma O’Connor.
The All-Star defender limped off in the semi-final win over Galway after damaging ligaments in her knee, which is compounded by an ongoing ankle injury.
Rebel boss Paudie Murray has conceded she won’t make it back in time for the clash with the Cats on September 10, which has cast a dampener on the team’s preparations.
“We have to accept Gemma won’t be able to play,” said Murray. “She had an ankle injury on the Thursday before we played Galway and if you look back at the tape, she took a horrific tackle in terms of how her knee bent.
“She has ligament damage in the ankle and knee and that’s a 12- to 14-week recovery period. It would be impossible to expect any player to be ready to play in a couple of weeks.
“It has taken from the buzz for us a bit because Gemma is one of the greatest camogie players of all-time. She’s a key member of our team and would be for any county, but we’ve explained to the rest of the players we have to push forward now.
“This is an opportunity for others to step up but you have to be disappointed not to have a full deck to pick from. Ideally, you’d be able to have a right cut off Kilkenny with everyone available but we’ve to control the controllables. ”
The Leesiders face Kilkenny in the senior decider but will feature in the intermediate final as well, taking on Meath in what will be a bumper day for Cork camogie at Croke Park. Murray is manager of both sides and also reached the two finals in 2016, losing to Kilkenny on the double.
“We’re not concentrating on ‘revenge’ or anything like that. We’ll have two tough games as it is without getting caught up in that. Meath and Kilkenny are both excellent sides and very physical as well.”