WITH a win over Tipperary last weekend Cork ladies footballers now need just one more from their remaining two games to see them through to the league semi-final.
They would have expected to beat Tipp in their Lidl NFL tie, but they now face two tough games as they entertain Dublin on Saturday night and then head to Dungarvan the following weekend to take on Waterford.
Both of these sides are never easy to beat and when you have the All-Ireland champions coming to town then you are going to be in for a tough night.
Last Friday night it was great to see them play their opening tie at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, their second time playing there, and they will also face Dublin there, with a 7.30pm throw-in on Saturday night.
Cork won’t need to be told of the challenge ahead against the Dubs, but in league terms, the Rebels tend to get the better of them on most occasions.
In 2019 they defeated them in the league before they met again at the semi-final stage in one of the games of the year.
It took extra-time to separate the sides that day at Nowlan Park and it’s no secret that these two sides simply don’t like losing to each other.
Some have accused Dublin of not taking the league too seriously over the years and their manager, Mick Bohan, has been known to use it to experiment with different styles of play and players in his time in charge.
But, like all managers, he may not have that luxury this year with a shortened season. With only three group games and then a potential semi and final all will be trying to peak for the championship which starts in early July.
One of the players that Cork will have to stop on Saturday night is Carla Rowe.
She has been a star of Dublin’s All-Ireland success as they bid to make it five in a row this year.
She will be part of history as Carla will be part of the first Dublin senior ladies football team to play at the Páirc, something that all of them are looking forward to.
“Every one in the country is grateful to be back playing sport and the games will be a guide to see how our short season of preparation has gone for us. You have to use the league to your advantage and try different things and using different panel members.
“Our record in the league is not good and we have only won it once but we always go out with the goal of achieving in it. But with only a few week's preparations you never know how these things go.
“But every year you need to improve and Mick (Bohan) would always say that you must up your performance all the time. For three years in a row we were chasing Cork and now, like the last couple of years, we are the ones being hunted and chased.
If you’re not improving better than everyone else is then you are in trouble. As a group, we still feel we haven’t hit the best performance we think we are capable of.
"There have been highlights of it in games, but we are still striving for that complete performance and keep trying to improve to reach that target.
“People will be looking to us, Cork and Mayo as the ones most likely to be fighting it out at the end of the year but Donegal are a massive threat. You can never write off Armagh or Galway either and really there are no easy games in the league or championship.”
Turning her attentions to the Cork game Carla said: “It’s fantastic to be playing at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. I think that’s what we want as footballers. We want to be in those big stadiums, we want to be in the likes of Croke Park, Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Semple Stadium.
“They are the standard-bearers and it’s fantastic to get the opportunity to play in them. Any day Dublin play Cork is an interesting day I think. I don’t think anyone can deny that and we are looking forward to it.
“Both teams know each other so well and know the type of game they play so sometimes it depends on the day and how it runs for you. We will be making sure to stick to our game plan, even if it’s going one way of the other, that we keep developing it and stay with that.
“We can’t wait to get down and see the stadium and we are looking forward to the challenge of playing Cork there.”