Cork must beat Waterford or miss out on ladies football league semi-final

Ephie Fitzgerald's side defeated Tipp but lost to Dublin in the games so far
Cork must beat Waterford or miss out on ladies football league semi-final

Cork's Melissa Duggan in action against Jennifer Dunne of Dublin in their Lidl Ladies NFL game at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

SUNDAY; Waterford v Cork, Dungarvan, 2pm.

THE maths are simple as Cork travel to Dungarvan for their Lidl Ladies NFL clash with Waterford on Sunday.

Whichever side wins will go through to the semi-final of the league and the other is out. Dublin are already through from their group and Tipperary have been eliminated after their loss to Waterford last week.

So it’s a winner takes all scenario and on paper, the Rebels will be slight favourites. Their chances were further increased with the camogie news during the week.

With the Cork senior camogie side going straight to their league semi-final it now means that the likes of Hannah Looney, Libby Coppinger and Meabh Cahalane will all be available for selection.

This will be a boost for manager, Ephie Fitzgerald, as Waterford showed last week against Tipperary they are a force to be reckoned with.

They hit 5-12 against Tipp and with home advantage won’t fear Cork. In recent years the Rebel side has gotten the better of them and this is something that the Deise would love to put right and they will feel they are in a good position to do so.

There is plenty of talent on their side and in midfielder Kate McGrath have a player that can dominate a game. She hit 1-1 against Tipp and will be one of several players Cork will need to keep a close eye on.

Add in the likes of Maria Delahunty and Eimear Fennell, who scored 4-7 between them in their game with Tipp and Cork will be well aware this will be far from an easy tie. Full-forward Aileen Wall is another that is difficult to mark and though she only scored a point against Tipp, she was involved in setting up many of Waterford’s scores.

Ephie has already said on several occasions that the league is not Cork’s priority this year and they are actively building towards the championship in a few weeks.

NEW BLOOD

So far Cork have given game time to players who haven’t featured regularly up to now and they have unearthed another talented forward in Sadhbh O’Leary. She has shown in the two games to date that the production line of outstanding forwards in Cork is still going strong. A tenacious corner-forward Sadhbh has been outstanding in their first two games, against Tipp and Dublin, in the former was Player of the Game. Not bad for your first start for your county at senior level.

Others too that have benefited from the longer than usual time off from training etc. That includes Ciara O’Sullivan who is as hungry as ever to win.

Now one of the senior members of the squad she is an example to any young player and is sure to play a key role for Cork come the championship.

Orla Finn has also impressed, whilst at the other end of the pitch Roisin Phelan has been rock solid at full-back.

Erika O’Shea was the find of last season and has continued to improve this year and with her on one flank and Melissa Duggan on the other, Cork have two of the best half-backs in the country.

Both are superb defenders and are equally as good bursting forward, which they have done with success so far this season. Aisling Hutchings also made a welcome return at centre-back against Dublin.

Maire O’Callaghan and Looney are strong in midfield and the good news for Ephie is that he now has competition for starting places all over the pitch.

The likes of Cahalane, Eimear Meaney, Chloe Collins, and Clare O’Shea are keeping defenders on their toes and Abbie O’Mahony can slot in at midfield. There the injured Niamh Cotter will be another option come championship and what an option to have.

Up front Doireann O’Sullivan should be back from injury soon, along with Aine Terry O’Sullivan, with Orlagh Farmer showing her prowess when she came on against the Dubs. Add in the returning Eimear Scally and Cork are building a squad for championship, which is their priority.

But with that competition for places all those who take to the pitch will be anxious to do well to get a starting spot so, while it won’t be easy, expect Cork to advance to the league semi-final on June 13.

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