Cork host Dublin: Ladies football blockbuster in the Páirc on Saturday

'Their levels of huge are huge and we have to try and match that to have any chance'
Cork host Dublin: Ladies football blockbuster in the Páirc on Saturday

Tipperary's Rosin Daly and Abbie O'Mahony of Cork. The Glanmire forward is set to start against Dublin on Saturday night. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

CORK ladies football manager, Ephie Fitzgerald, has enjoyed both the highs and lows of games with Dublin since he took the reigns in 2016.

In his first year in charge he got the better of them in the All-Ireland final and added the league crown as well that year.

However since then Cork have lost out in two All-Ireland finals to their arch-rivals but have won the league twice in 2017 and 2019, the latter being the last year it was played to a conclusion.

In 2019 they beat Dublin in the semi-final in what was the outstanding game of the year before defeating Galway in the final, and with no league last year, Cork are the defending champions for this year.

He is well aware of the challenge they face on Saturday night, 7.35pm on TG4, and said Dublin will start as favourites.

“Dublin have been setting the bar very high for the last number of years and are the side we are all trying to catch,” said Ephie.

“They are a strong, physical side who have plenty of quality players all through the lines. Their levels of fitness are huge and that is something we have to try and match to have any chance of beating them.

“I watched their game against Waterford and any day you get six goals is a good one. They have already unearthed another good player in Hannah Tyrell [former Irish rugby international] and to score 1-5 was no mean feat for her.

“It’s early days but on that form, they are already showing they will take some stopping again this year.

“But this game won’t define our season and as I have already said our focus is very much on the championship in a few weeks, rather than the league this year.

“We are aiming to peak for that and so will continue to give players game time in the league in preparation for that. We will be concentrating on our own game and getting ourselves right.

We still have a number of injured players that are on the way back, but this game will be too early for most of them. We will wait and see and won’t be rushing anyone back for the league.

“It was great to see the likes of young players like Sadhbh O’Leary and Emma Cleary doing well last week and I thought Roisin Phelan, who hasn’t really played any football since the All-Ireland final, had a good game at full-back as well.

Cork captain, Martina O’Brien, echoed the sentiments of Ephie and said she was happy with their start last week.

“I suppose for our first game of the season it wasn’t the worst, we were probably slower at the start then we would have liked to be, but we felt our way into the game as you do.

“We got a good win in the end, but now we are playing the All-Ireland champions and it will be a stiff test for us. Everybody knows what Dublin are like but we are looking forward to it.

“We expect ourselves to put in a better performance on our second day out. 

We were training during the week and trying to work on some areas of our game we want to do better on and hopefully implement them on Saturday.

“They have plenty of quality players but we are focusing on ourselves and getting our game plan right to ensure that everybody knows the job they have to do when they go on the pitch.

“We had a couple of players getting their first start last week against Tipperary and that was great to see and hopefully we will continue developing as the season goes on.

“It should be a great game tomorrow night and another challenge we are looking forward too,” concluded Martina.

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