Advantage Cork in camogie opener with Tipp missing key players

Aishling Moloney and Orla O'Dwyer are both unavailable
Advantage Cork in camogie opener with Tipp missing key players

Cork's Saoirse McCarthy and Grace Walsh of Kilkenny battling in last year's championship semi-final in the Páirc. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Littlewoods Division 1 National League: Cork v Tipperary, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Saturday, 2pm.

AS the 2021 season finally gets underway, it’s a clash of a Munster pairing, Cork and Tipp, at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday afternoon.

Tipperary, still developing, will again utilise the league, as will Cork, to find their championship team. The Premier county have played in the past three All-Ireland semi-finals, but have not reached a decider since 2006.

They were without four key players when they lost to Galway in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final and two of them remain absent.

Aishling Moloney hasn’t made herself available for this year’s national league and that is a huge disappointment to Tipp. She may yet appear for championship.

“She’s a quality player and a big loss. No county can afford to lose any players,” said Tipp manager, Bill Mullaney.

Orla O’Dwyer is another player that Tipp will miss on Saturday. She is still in Australia, due home in late May. What a year she had in the AFLW, with the Brisbane Lions winning the grand final and being named Irish Player of the AFL. She’ll be highly conditioned when she returns, and it’ll just be a case of getting her eye back in.

Orla O'Dwyer. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Orla O'Dwyer. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images

“Other than Aishling and Orla, we’ve no other losses from last year,” said Mullaney. “Last year, we had four or five injuries in the All-Ireland semi-final. Nicole Walsh is back, Ereena Friday is back, all fit and rearing to go, like the rest of them.

“I’m sure Cork are the same. All they want to do is get back playing.

“Look, we’re delighted with where we are. We’re as fit as we are three weeks in with a couple of months of a training programme done on their own.

We don’t know what to expect: Whether we’re fit enough or on the pace or off the pace.

“We just hope it’ll be a cracking match and we’ll come out happy, in that we’ll have found some players or developed some players; we tested some new system or found out some weaknesses we need to work on,” Mullaney said.

“Look, the thing is, throw the ball in and let’s get going. It’s been long enough.”

Mullaney added to his backroom team this year, with Denis Kelly and Angelo Walsh.

“Yes, we did,” Mullaney said. “Both men are from Borrisoleigh. Angelo is S&C, but is also a huge help on the camogie side and was a key part of the Borrisoleigh senior hurlers that got to the All-Ireland club final, losing narrowly last January. Denis has been involved with camogie before and has vast experience. They’re a great addition to the set-up.

“It’s whether we have the players, at the end of the day. We’re not too far away.

“To be fair, we’re trying to develop and bring them in (players) and play a certain style of play, without being stuck to positions.

“Our hurling has to come up a bit more. I think we had fitness problems for years and we’ve got over that.

“It’s our hurling — that last pass or last strike — that isn’t quite there and we’ve been working on that and trying to improve it, make the right decision at the right time,” Mullaney said.

Tipperary manager Bill Mullaney. Picture: Laszlo Geczo, INPHO
Tipperary manager Bill Mullaney. Picture: Laszlo Geczo, INPHO

“We can battle anybody; we give teams great battles. We got into the top four. I really think, if we had everybody last year, we could have beaten Galway.

“But when you’re missing Nicole, Ereena, Aishling, and Orla, you’re digging deep into your panel from the start, and they might not have the required experience to be in an All-Ireland semi-final.

“We’re trying to get enough games into players. So, we’re going to have loads of changes on Saturday,” Mullaney said.

“We’re going to trial out everybody, if we can, during the league, give everyone the opportunity, find out what we can work on, and see what we can develop.

“We did it last year and we got through the league carrying two or three new players in every match and I think it’s the only opportunity you get to develop them and see if they’ll be good enough.

“And I always give a new player two matches, as they could get lucky or unlucky in the first one. You have to be patient. It’s high risk, but you have to be patient.”

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