TO captain your club, county or country is an honour any player would be delighted with and Martina O’Brien is no exception to this.
The Cork ladies footballer will have the honour of leading out the Rebels this season and she is looking forward to the new season and hopefully ensuring it ends on a high in September.
Martina has captained Cork before but this is the first time she has been named captain for the season and follows in the lines of outstanding captains like Juliet Murphy, Briege Corkery and in the last few years Ciara and Doireann O’Sullivan.
But right now the championship is far from Martina’s mind and she and the squad’s focus is on their opening league game against Tipperary, throw-in at 7.30pm at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Last year was one that saw her win two county medals, with her club Clonakilty and then at senior level with West Cork. It was a bitter-sweet win with the divisional side as Clon’s win sees them join the senior ranks and thus Martina is unable to play with West Cork anymore.
So it was a nice way to end her stint with them as they got the better of Mourneabbey in the final. Unfortunately, the year ended in disappointment as Cork were beaten in the All-Ireland final by Dublin the week before Christmas, but Martina says it can be a motivating factor for this season to spur them on.
“For me it’s a great honour to be captain of Cork, to get a chance to captain your club is an honour not to mind your county. West Cork nominated me after the county final and I was delighted to take on the role.
“But you also have to park that and we all have a job to do this year, starting with the league and then after that the championship. The league format is different this year (two groups rather than all playing each other) and I think credit must go to the LGFA for this. They are trying to keep it really safe for everyone involved.
I think the split season will also work well and it gives players time with their clubs and with their county and everyone knows exactly what’s going on. Look we are getting three quality games in the league and we can’t complain.”
Martina is well aware of the threat that Tipp are and they surprised Cork with a late goal to beat them a couple of seasons ago.
“We would never take any team for granted and Tipp have shown what they are about over the last two seasons. They are back up senior for a couple of years and were also senior before that as well.
“They are a good side with quality players and a quality underage structure. They have a good coaching set-up and with a new manager this year will be out to show what they are about.
“They were very unlucky in the championship last year so there are no bones about it. This will be a tough game for us. I suppose that’s one thing that is in the back of our minds but we will prepare for that and we are looking forward to getting back playing.
“We have three hard games [the other two are against Dublin and Waterford] and if we were in the other group they are all hard games too. I don’t think you can say at this stage that any team is definitely into the semi-final so we will be taking it one game at a time, starting tomorrow night.
“But we have to focus on ourselves as well and we are trying to get systems of play to take into the second and third league games and then into the championship later in the season.”
That game goes ahead at the Páirc and Martina says they are delighted to be playing there for the second time ever, their game against Dublin a week later will also be at the same venue.
The pitch is immaculate and watching the Cork hurlers playing there it looked unbelievable.
“We played Westmeath there and it was amazing and the only pity is that fans can’t be there. But at least it’s on TV and our families and supporters will get the chance to see it. TG4 are showing more games this year and it’s great to see them increasing the coverage of ladies football.
“It’s great to be there in such a fabulous facility but once the ball is thrown in you have to forget about all that and concentrate on trying to win,” concluded Martina.