FOLLOWING a quiet couple of weeks, Cork City return to action in the Women’s National League this Saturday.
They travel to the Oscar Traynor Centre to take on Bohemians.
With the Republic of Ireland women’s team testing themselves against Denmark and Belgium in friendlies last week, City and the rest of the clubs in the national league were given the weekend off.
So, with the Leesiders having returned to pre-season training earlier than usual this year, and now facing six league games over the next six weekends, Rónán Collins gave his players a breather.
“During the recent pre-season, we came back as early as we could, we trained every weekend, or had a match, so we knew the third weekend in the season there was this opportunity to give players the weekend off,” Collins said.
“There won’t be many more opportunities to do that; they have worked really hard, so we thought they earned it. We were hoping there would be a lot of hunger in the sessions this week and that they were itching to get back.
“Sometimes, you need to not have what you like to make you realise how much you like it,” Collins said
But there was another reason: His side had also been hit by an injury crisis, particularly in defence.
Ciara McNamara just returned from injury to start in their last game — the 3-0 defeat to Shelbourne at Turner’s Cross — but that only softened the blow, as Danielle Burke and Zara Foley (who was set to train with the Ireland seniors) also suffered knocks.
Sophie Liston and Katie McCarthy remain on the sidelines, while Collins is hoping Kelly Leahy and Riona Crowley will recover to at least make the squad for Bohs.
“We had a few knocks and niggles, so it gave us another week to have some of them clear up. That definitely is a bonus,” Collins said.
“Danielle is still a small doubt, but she should be fine. Zara’s ankle will be at her for another few weeks; we still don’t have a timeframe on it and that is similar to Sophie.
“Katie is getting closer, as well, but this weekend, and maybe the next few weekends, will still be a bit too early for her,” Collins said.
“Kelly is a small bit of a doubt. She may be out this weekend, but back the weekend after, and Riona rolled her ankle, but she is close to making a return.
“Kate O’Donovan has a small knee issue, but she should be fine for this weekend… so there are a few of them.”
City made this journey twice in 2020 and both times they won: They beat Bohs 4-3 in an enthralling league fixture, before they knocked them out of the FAI Cup in the quarter-final with a 3-1 triumph.
But their manager won’t be taking anything for granted and he is expecting a tough test against the Dublin club, who lie third in the table, on three points, having beaten Treaty United 6-2 at home, before losing 3-1 away to Galway last time out.
After a draw and a defeat in their opening games, Collins is hopeful City can produce a good performance to pick up their first win of the campaign.
“It will be a really good challenge,” Collins said. “Bohs have really strengthened: They have a lot of experience and they also have a lot of pace up-front, which can really hurt teams.
“They’re pressing a bit higher this year and are a small bit more direct to play in teams’ faces, so we are going to have to try and combat that. We will have to be at our top to go and perform there to get a good result.
We will be looking to stamp our authority on the game early.
“Last season, against Bohs, we started both games against them very well, but we didn’t really carry that performance through over the course of the game: We had down periods.
“They really do have a goal-scoring threat, so we can’t have a down period this time; we have to try and keep control of the game,” Collins said.
“Performance is key; the wins will look after themselves as long as we keep looking after our performance,” Collins said.
“We know, if we can do our stuff right this weekend, everything else will follow.”