Emma Cleary captains Cork for league opener away to Mayo

Shane Ronayne has a revamped line-up for Sunday's clash after a number of high-profile retirements
Emma Cleary captains Cork for league opener away to Mayo

Sarah Mulvihill of Mayo in action against Emma Cleary and Maire O'Callaghan last summer. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

CORK boss Shane Ronayne has named a team with a nice blend of youth and experience as the Leesiders travel to Mayo for the Lidl National League opener.

The new-look Cork side will hope to avoid a repeat of last year’s championship quarter-final loss and begin the season in a winning way. 

Last year’s semi-finalists welcome them to the Connacht Centre of Excellence for a 2pm start and Emma Cleary, daughter of former Rebel All-Ireland winner and current Cork senior football manager John Cleary, is named as team captain.

With experienced players Martina O’Brien, Eimear Scally, Orlagh Farmer, Aishling Hutchins, Caoimhe Moore, Áine O’Sullivan, and Orla Finn retiring, it will very much be a fresh outfit this season. 

That includes Abigail Ring, a standout minor in 2022, and the returning Erika O'Shea and twins Eimear and Daire Kiely.

However, the Rebels will still expect to challenge for the top honours in the season ahead with back-to-back All-Ireland champions Meath and Dublin the teams to beat.

Ronayne knows that it will be a challenging start to 2023: “It’s going to be a tough trip to Mayo on Sunday and even though we didn’t do the things we spoke about before the game, they were very impressive when they beat us in the championship last year.” 

The manager also acknowledged when speaking to The Echo this week that this year’s league campaign will provide a great chance for Cork’s youngsters to gain some top-level experience. 

“It gives us the chance to try and blood players and for them to get some experience of playing inter-county football. There is a big step up from club football and from underage inter-county football.” 

Former captain Sarah Tierney and two-time TG4 All-Star Rachel Kearns make welcome returns to the Mayo set-up.

The Mayo-Cork league game, along with Galway v Donegal and Waterford against Kerry, is available to view live on the LGFA’s live-streaming portal this weekend on: https://bit.ly/3k9k8CB

CORK: M O’Sullivan; S Kelly, E Meaney, D Kiniry; A Healy, H Looney, M Duggan; S Leahy, E O’Shea; E Cleary (c), R Leahy, D Kiely; L Coppinger, E Kiely, A Ring.

MAYO: L Brennan; É Ronayne, R Flynn, D Caldwell; C Needham, F McHale, K Sullivan (c); C McManamon, H Reape; E Reape, S Cafferky, S Howley; L Cafferky, T Needham, R Kearns.

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