Emma Cleary: Cork using the league to build a squad for championship

Win over rivals Kerry at the weekend in Páirc Uí Chaoimh was an ideal boost in a spring campaign which has seen some mixed results
Emma Cleary: Cork using the league to build a squad for championship

Katie Quirke of Cork battles Emma Costello of Kerry at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last weekend. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

COULD it be a great summer for the Cork ladies footballers as the Munster and All-Ireland championships start to appear on the horizon?

Time will tell but they will know that they will need to step up from their league showing to be in with a shout of either Munster or All-Ireland glory.

They started with a good win over Mayo, before then drawing away to Waterford.

Losses to Dublin and Galway followed before bouncing back with a comprehensive win over Donegal and last weekend were victorious over the Kingdom.

In both their losses they were a little unlucky and against Dublin in particular the very least they deserved was a draw.

In the rankings for All-Ireland honours most would have them behind Kerry and Galway, who on paper, are probably the front runners at the moment, with Cork and Dublin not too far behind.

Meath have fallen away a bit but with the likes of Vikki Wall and Emma Duggan due to return shortly they will be far stronger come the All-Ireland series.

But Cork can be very happy where they are at and throughout the league have been building a strong squad as they get more and more game time into young players.

Louise Ward of Galway in action against Emma Cleary of Cork in the Lidl Ladies National Football League at Pearse Stadium. Picture: Ray Ryan
Louise Ward of Galway in action against Emma Cleary of Cork in the Lidl Ladies National Football League at Pearse Stadium. Picture: Ray Ryan

They would be the first to say so themselves but young players like Orlaith Cahalane, Abigail Ring, Dara Kiniry, and Rachel Leahy are stars in the making.

Add in a few who are slightly older but still very young, like Abbie O’Mahony, Katie Quirke, Eimear and Daire Kiely, Sarah Leahy, and Erika O’Shea and there is massive talent in this squad.

Top it off with the experience of Hannah Looney, Melissa Duggan, Roisin Phelan, Ciara, and Doireann O’Sullivan, amongst others, and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic heading into the summer.


Emma Cleary is another that has been playing some impressive football this year and it was her second-half display in particular against Dublin that brought Cork back from 10 points down to take the lead before agonisingly losing out.

Reflecting on their win over Kerry, 1-17 to 2-6, and also looking forward to their clash with Meath next Saturday she said: “It’s always nice to get a win over Kerry but it’s also nice to get it towards the end of the league to try finish strongly.

“I think the league was very competitive this year, we have seven games and that’s what we wanted to be building all the time ahead of the championship.”

Looking at their battle with Kerry a good start with an early goal from Hannah Looney both settled the Rebels but also put them on their way to victory.

As expected Kerry came back at Cork and two second-half goals made it a bit closer.

“They brought on a few of their subs who made a difference but to be fair to our girls who came on they didn’t let the standards drop and we got the last score and I think the management were happy enough with that.

“We have been building as a squad and we had an internal game recently and it was very competitive. 

That’s what you need, everyone to be able to start or come on and do a role and think all definitely did that against Kerry.

“We just want to get a performance now against Meath as we head into championship and finish the league on a high."

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