THE Cork ladies footballers have received a huge boost as 11-time All-Ireland winner Brid Stack has returned to the panel.
Stack - the 2016 LGFA Senior Players' Player of the Year - has been named in Ephie Fitzgerald's 30-player squad to face Galway in Mallow on Sunday (2pm).
There was much speculation surrounding Stack's return in recent months, but her return has been hugely welcomed by supporters and players given her outstanding contribution as one of the country's top defenders for more than a decade. Having started out as a centre-back, she has been deployed at the edge of the square in recent years, where her no-nonsense defending hasn't stopped her raiding upfield to kick scores and inspire the team.
The news comes just a week after the retirement of Stack's former club teammate, Deirdre O'Reilly, with whom she won 11 All-Ireland medals within 12 years, as well as 10 Division 1 National League titles.
A number of other experienced players like dual legends Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley, who is the current camogie captain and has played in that code, and Annie Walsh have yet to feature this spring, though Walsh has been training in recent weeks.
Former All-Ireland winner Grace Kearney has been named in the starting line-up, coming in to replace Midleton's Orlagh Farmer in the forward line. The Bride Rovers star took some time out last year, but her recent return to the squad has been a big boost also for Fitzgerald.
Cork will take on Galway in a top-of-the-table clash at 2pm in Mallow, with the Tribeswomen looking to get one over on the reigning champions.
The Tribeswomen, under the guidance of new coach Stephen Glennon, have won four games and lost one, just like Cork, however the Rebels are in front on points difference.
Sunday's game follows on from a great win away to Monaghan last weekend, in which Cork came back from behind to secure their fourth win of the campaign.
Following the fixture against Galway, just the round 7 game remains with 2016 Division 2 champions Donegal calling to Leeside next weekend.
Elsewhere, Dublin and Mayo will make history tomorrow when they play the first ever ladies football National League game in Croke Park. Their sixth-round fixture will be a double-header with the Dublin footballers, and throw-in gets underway at 5pm.
See Saturday's Evening Echo for an exclusive interview with 11-time All-Ireland winner Deirdre O'Reilly.
Cork (v Galway): M O'Sullivan; M Ambrose, R Phelan, E Meaney; M Duggan, R O'Sullivan, S Kelly; N Cotter, J O'Shea; L Coppinger, B O'Sullivan,G Kearney; E Scally, C O'Sullivan, O Finn.