SHE raised the Munster cup a few weeks ago and now the journey to lift the Brendan Martin Cup starts on Sunday for Maire O’Callaghan.
The Mourneabbey player took over the captaincy of the Cork ladies footballers this year and had the pleasure of raising the cup aloft in Killarney after they beat Kerry in the final.
While it was far from easy Maire knows that if Cork are to go on to win the All-Ireland then they have to up their game another few levels but they are going in the right direction and will be taking it one game at a time.
First up in that journey is Donegal on Sunday and then the following weekend they face Waterford in their final group game.
Win those two matches and it should make their quarter-final game a bit easier so getting off to a winning start is vital. Donegal are never easy to beat and started with a win over Waterford last weekend and know that if they beat Cork they are through.
Maire is looking forward to getting back on the pitch and hopefully a winning start on Sunday.
“We really enjoyed the Munster title win but we have parked that now and our focus is very much on the All-Ireland series starting with Donegal on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a battle as you never get anything easy from them and they are a tough side to get the better of. With their win over Waterford confidence will be high and we won’t be taking anything for granted.
“I have played against them a number of times and it’s a game that anything less than your best and you will be in trouble. Donegal have some great players and in attack, you have the likes of Geraldine McLaughlin who is always difficult to get the better of. She is very accurate from frees so we know we can’t afford to be giving too many away as she will slot them over.
“They will be very happy after their win and will be looking to drive on and secure their spot in the knock-out stages and we have to try and stop them so that we put ourselves in the driving seat to qualify.”
With three weeks since Cork’s last game and Donegal playing last weekend, some would argue it puts the latter in a better position, but Maire is happy they had the break.
“But we are happy with what we have done in training since the Munster final and we got to have a look at Donegal against Waterford last weekend as well. They have serious strengths and we have to be ready for that. A lot of us have played against them before and will be well aware of the dangers they possess.
“We will have to keep it tight in defence and limit the goal chances as they have some lethal forwards and will pounce on any mistake you make. We will need to make it very hard for them to score but that’s easier said than done as they will be doing the same thing as us – trying to keep it tight at the back and take their chances in attack.
“But we have a great squad and the competition to get into the starting 15 is driving us all on. That competition starts to get into the matchday squad first before you get in the team and we have a couple of players that can play in every position at this stage.
“Our training games within the squad are very high intensity and you forget they are your teammates and nobody holds back. It’s so good to have that competition to drive everybody on and I wouldn’t fancy being part of the management team in trying to pick who makes the matchday squad and then who starts.
“Nobody owns any jersey so you really need to be performing in training to have any chance of being involved on matchday. It’s great motivation for everybody in every session and that is good for the team to have.
“We are looking forward to getting going now and hopefully will come away with a win and then start preparing for the Waterford game."