Cork ladies footballers face Meath in tough championship opener

Meath lifted the All-Ireland Intermediate crown last December and followed it up with a league title recently
Cork ladies footballers face Meath in tough championship opener

Cork’s Ciara O’Sullivan and Siobhán McGrath of Dublin in action at Croke Park recently. Picture: INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy

CORK will get their TG4 All-Ireland championship bid underway on Saturday against Meath.

The Rebels head to Birr for a 2pm throw-in and will be expected to get their group stage off to a winning start.

But they will know they can't take their opponents lightly as they are high on confidence. 

They won the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship last December and then followed it up by winning the Division 2 league title on the same day that Cork lost the Division 1 decider to Dublin.

Meath were crowned Division Three champions in 2019 and were top of the pile in Division 2 in 2020 before the pandemic hit and the league was called to a halt. 

They had to wait until this year to get the chance to join the top flight and they grabbed it with a good win over Kerry in the final at Croke Park by 2-16 to 1-9.

Manager, Eamonn Murray, has overseen the rise and rise of his side to the top flight and they would have been there a year sooner were it not for Covid-19.

Speaking after the final he said: “That performance was amazing. 

"We knew coming up we needed a complete team performance and we got a complete team performance today. 

"It all worked out very well.”

Emma Duggan and Stacey Grimes hit the goals for Meath in the league final and are just two of several players Cork will need to keep a close eye on. 

Looking at their win they had 11 different scorers, which shows the spread of talent in their side and they have players capable of driving out of defence and are not afraid to have a shot.

As well as Duggan and Grimes others Cork will need to keep an eye on include the likes of Emma Troy, Máire O’Shaughnessy and Vikki Wall.

Cork will be determined to bounce back from their league final loss to Dublin and get their All-Ireland campaign off to a winning start.

They have made no secret of the fact that this year their focus has been on the championship rather than the league.

Whilst they didn't take the league lightly it was a bonus to get to the final and it gave them five good games ahead of the championship.

The focus in training is very much on the championship as they bid to win the Brendan Martin Cup for the first time since 2016.

With only two group games they can't afford to lose either one and captain, Martina O'Brien, will have them ready to go and fully focused on the task ahead.

There is talent all over the pitch with the likes of Erika O'Shea, Roisin Phelan, Melissa Duggan, Hannah Looney, Orla Finn, Ciara O'Sullivan and Sadhbh O'Leary all outstanding in the league.

It's not going to be easy but expect the Rebels to take the points and set them up for their second group game against Tipperary a week later.

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