ON the back of their enthralling Munster senior championship final win last Saturday, Cork travel to Wexford to take on the home side in the opening round of the Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship.
While many may have felt prior to last Saturday evening that the outcome of the decider against Clare was a foregone conclusion, they wouldn’t have been aware of the massive strides Clare’s senior side have made this season. They gave Cork a brilliant battle.
It wasn’t that Cork were poor, Clare were very good and the manner in which Cork found the equaliser on two occasions to force extra-time twice will greatly stand to them. That experience for players like Olivia McAllen, Meabh Murphy, Katie O’Mahoney, Izzy O’Regan, and Emma Murphy was invaluable.
Hit with injuries for much of the league campaign, things are now moving in the right direction for Cork. When one considers the availability of Hannah Looney (due home next week), Orla Cronin, Sorcha MCartan, and Cliona Healy in addition to Fiona Keating getting more game-time, Cork will have options.
Chloe Sigerson is coming back to form. She is a versatile player, evident again when Cork put her back and pushed Laura Hayes up the field for the second half against Clare.
I’ve always felt Chloe is best placed in defence. She is a beautiful striker of the ball, and her deliveries are inch-perfect.
Their hurling ability, speed and attacking roles, particularly on the wings with Treacy holding and sweeping, is Cork’s launch pad.
Looney will more than likely play a midfield/half-forward role when she returns.
I have a concern around Cork’s failure to find the net in any great volume. They had just two opportunities in 90 minutes last week and failed to take them. One against Kilkenny and Galway in the league doesn’t indicate a real consistent threat. Yes, the game has changed but it’s been goals that pipped Cork to the All-Ireland and league titles just past.
Cork’s defence has settled nicely. Meabh Cahalane in the left corner is brilliantly effective in her interceptions, cut-offs and offloads. Libby Coppinger has become a very reliable and tenacious full-back, young Meabh Murphy is improving all the time and as the game went on against Clare she grew in stature. You won’t find a more industrious player than Katie O’Mahoney in midfield and the fight for positions here will be exciting.
It’s wonderful to see Katie wearing the red jersey. The opportunity presented itself with the appointment of Matthew Twomey as manager.
Her senior baptism at 31 years of age is a massive step up in pace, but it’s a process well worth undertaking.
The introduction of Orla Cronin at half-time against Clare, her first inter-county action since last year’s All-Ireland final, made a telling impact. She was enthusiastic, her awareness and positioning a constant threat. She’s sure to start tomorrow as Twomey endeavours to bring her up to match fitness.
Laura Treacy will also more than likely start even though she hasn’t fully trained this week with an achilles issue that saw her side-lined for the Munster final.
What of Wexford? Division 2 league champions — a league they were eager to get out of and face the top teams next season. Their last outing was the 0-13 to 0-4 Leinster championship loss to Kilkenny on April 30.
They will be keen to strike a better balance between defence and attack, with a need to commit more players to forward roles in order to get the necessary scores.
Manager Kevin Tattan, from Russell Rovers in Shanagarry, will be keen to build on the side’s league success against Antrim. Cork can expect a tough physical challenge but should come out with their first winning points of the campaign.