THIS year’s Cork LGFA U16 panel contains players from 21 clubs and underlines the depth of football talent present in the county ahead of an eagerly anticipated Munster campaign.
Encouragingly, there are 21 clubs represented on this year’s U16 inter-county panel with players drawn from all four of Cork’s LGFA divisions. Cork manager for the coming season, Dominic Gallagher (Mourneabbey), knows all about the demands of inter-county football at underage level having led the Rebels to All-Ireland U14 glory back in 2019.
The last few months have been an exceptionally busy time for Gallagher and his Cork U16 backroom team comprising of Conor Quinlan (Delaneys), Martin Nagle (Mallow), Michelle Dullea (Keelnameela), Paddy Lucey (Ballincollig), Brian Boyle (Douglas) and Sheila Walsh (Mayfield).
“It has been a hectic schedule for everyone involved since we started back in late November,” Gallagher told the Echo.
“Over 300 girls trialled for this year’s Cork U16s. There was huge interest. It was a very long process and tough to get through all the trials to see everyone playing.
"We ended up with 36 players of the highest quality and the management team is really excited about this year’s panel.
“There is a good spread of clubs, 21 in all from across the county, and from all four divisions too. They are a brilliant bunch and there is already a great buzz since our first training session together. The girls have a great attitude and I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.”
The class of 2022 will begin their Munster LGFA A championship on April 9 at home to Tipperary. Next, Dominic Gallagher’s side travel to old rivals Kerry the following weekend, on April 16-17, before the latter take on Tipp in the provincial group’s final match.
This year’s Munster LGFA A U16 final is currently pencilled in for the May Bank Holiday weekend. It is a game the Cork panel hopes to be a part of and successful in before progressing to an All-Ireland semi-final against this year’s Ulster champions.
Cork claimed last year’s Munster U16 title by defeating Kerry 7-11 to 2-4 in a high-scoring decider. Lia Hogan (2), Áine Hallihan (2), Edel Sheehan, Eabha Curran and Ciara Morrison netter the winners’ goals but, unfortunately, Covid restrictions saw the LGFA decide not to hold an All-Ireland series. That meant an early end to the season for a Cork U16 panel that would definitely have been in the mix for an All-Ireland title.
“It is back to the normal calendar year but you still have to win Munster if you want to progress to the All-Ireland series,” Cork LGFA U16 manager stated.
“The Munster championship will be run off in April and we will not be looking beyond that even though it is good to see the All-Ireland series back for the U16 age grade. That hasn’t occurred for the last two years.
“Last year, the Cork U16s beat whatever was put in front of them and did what they could in difficult circumstances due to Covid. Thankfully, this year, we have a blank calendar and have been able to get the girls out training and plan for, hopefully, a normal and successful season.
“It is great for us too to be back out on a pitch and training again.
“That’s why it is really exciting for them to have a championship in front of them and something to prepare for. The commitment, already, from the panel has been brilliant. As I said, they are a hugely talented bunch of footballers. It is up to myself and the rest of the Cork U16 management team to try to bring the best out of them.”
Aimee Savage, Lainey O’Sullivan (Lisgoold), Alice Buckley, Amy Sheperd, Liah McMahon (St Val’s), Amy McKennedy, Eleanor Keating (Tadhg MacCarthaigh), Amy O’Riordan (Ballinora), Aoibhe Daly (Youghal), Aoibheann O’Neill, Jenny O’Neill (Erin’s Own), Ava Fitzgerald, Ava McCarthy, Orlaith Walsh, Sinead Hurley (Glanmire), Brianna Smith, Maisie McRae, Natalia O’Connor (Aghada), Caoimhe Fraher (Nemo Rangers), Catherine Murphy (Kinsale), Deirdre Cronin, Grace Cronin, Kate Williamson (Mourneabbey), Eabha Nagle (Mallow), Éabha O’Donovan, Niamh O’Sullivan (O’Donovan Rossa), Emily Brenner (Inch Rovers), Holly Quirke (Glanworth), Johanna Foskin (Bishopstown), Kate Carey, Leah Carey (Ilen Rovers), Keely Goulding, Shauna Sheehan (Rockbán), Méabh McGoldrick (Éire Óg), Molly Murphy (Macroom), Sarah Barr (St Michael’s).