Cork v Donegal: Ladies footballers head into All-Ireland series in good form

Shane Ronayne is confident his players can compete for the ultimate prize after winning the Munster title recently
Cork v Donegal: Ladies footballers head into All-Ireland series in good form

Cork's Katie Quirke is tackled by Kerry's Kayleigh Cronin and Keri-Ann Hanrahan. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

HE secured his first title as Cork manager three weeks ago and now Shane Ronayne sets his sights on the All-Ireland series.

As a manager, it’s always nice to get your first bit of silverware under the belt but Shane will be well aware that lifting the Brendan Martin Cup is what it’s all about for the Cork ladies footballers.

They will be delighted to have won the Munster title but it has been a few years since the All-Ireland title has made its way to Leeside and he and all involved will be hoping to end that run this year.

The last time they left Croke Park as winners was 2016 and since then they have lost finals in 2018 and 2020, both to Dublin.

Even at this early stage, Cork are considered one of the favourites to reach the latter stages of the championship at the very least and, along with Dublin and Meath, are one of the more likely sides to win the title.

For now, though their attention will be on their clash with Donegal on Sunday in Clann, Kildare, with a 2pm throw-in.

While Cork will be expected to win and follow up with a win over Waterford the following Saturday, they won’t be taking the challenge of either team lightly.

THREAT

He is well aware of what lies ahead and looking at the Donegal match Ronayne said: “They played really well against Waterford for long periods in a very tough game. Waterford set up very defensively and made it difficult for Donegal to break them down.

“Look they got the job done and they have some very good players that we would know down through the years. Geraldine McLaughlin was very good from frees and that was one of the big differences between the sides.

“Waterford missed a lot of their frees and Donegal took all their chances.

“The likes of Niamh McLaughlin and Yvonne Bonner played very well in attack and midfield and defensively they kept Waterford to 1-5. So they were strong all over the pitch and they also have the advantage of playing a game last weekend when we weren’t playing.

“It’s going to be a big task on Sunday but we are looking forward to it and we have trained very well the last three weeks. We had a great game amongst ourselves last Friday night and there is fierce competition for places in the team. There will probably be a few changes from the Munster final.

“With players coming back from injury and then those that were there then they are really fighting for jerseys. We are happy with the quality of players we have in the squad now. A few stepped away that are losses, but there are some younger players after coming in and some others after coming back and we know that whatever team we put out and bench we have are going to make an impact.

Sisters Róisín, Doireann, Meabh and Ciara O’Sullivan celebrate after Cork defeated Kerry last month. Picture: ©INPHO/Evan Treacy
Sisters Róisín, Doireann, Meabh and Ciara O’Sullivan celebrate after Cork defeated Kerry last month. Picture: ©INPHO/Evan Treacy

“The bench had a huge impact below in Killarney (Munster final) and I think it will be that way for the games ahead as well. We have two games in six days so you have to be conscious that you can’t have players playing full games all the time and you can always put up an injury or two along the way.

“So we are happy with the players we have and even since the Munster final there has been an increase in intensity and tempo in training. They know they have to be better and also that we are at the business end of the season now and you are five games away from an All-Ireland victory. 

So it won’t be easy but if we perform to our ability then we should get the job done on Sunday.”

Shane was also happy to say they now have a full squad, bar Clare O’Shea to pick from.

“Ciara McCarthy and Brid O’Sullivan and a few others that had knocks are all back in training and the only one we are missing long-term is Clare O’Shea and she will be out for a while yet with a quad injury and aside from her they are all ready to go.”

This was due to be a home game for Cork but he said they were happy to travel and oblige Donegal who requested it.

“They had issues around costs of travel and hotels, which we saw with Kerry hurlers recently, so we were happy to play in Kildare as they moved a game for Cork in 2018 and it was the right thing to do.

“No matter where the game is on we want to top this group and that’s our target and we won’t do that unless we beat Donegal on Sunday.”

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