Tuesday 24 April 2018

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Cork Independent


‘They gave us a good hiding, they’re a strong side’

Thursday, 4th May, 2017 1:00am

The Cork Ladies Footballers will be without Ciara O’Sullivan for the National League Final on Sunday against Donegal.

The Mourneabbey player, who was the All-Ireland winning captain in 2015 and 2016, is taking a short leave of absence for pre-arranged travels and will return in June.

However, manager Ephie Fitzgerald confirmed to the Cork Independent that Ciara’s sister Doireann is available and will captain Cork in her sister’s absence.

Cork take on Donegal in the final who are making their first appearance in a Division One Final after beating Galway comprehensively on a scoreline of 5-11 to 1-7 in the semi-final. It’s been a satisfying League campaign to-date, says Fitzgerald.

“Things have been going very well for us. We started off the year with only six or so players from the All-Ireland winning side available to us, so we brought in a lot of fresh faces.

“It’s my second year in charge but there’s been a lot of changes from last year with the new girls, so you have to start again in that case, but I’m very pleased so far.

“The girls may be young in years but they have shown great maturity sence their step-up to the senior grade and we’re in a better position now going into the summer.”

Fitzgerald took over the manager’s role at the start of last season after previous manager Eamonn Ryan left the side after ten All-Ireland titles in 11 years, taking up a selector’s role with the men’s intercounty side.

At the first time of asking, however, Fitzgerald delivered League, Munster and All-Ireland titles in 2016 and is really enjoying his experience as manager of Cork.

“Some would have said it was taking on a bit of a poisoned chalice, no matter what there are no gurantees in sport with results and at the moment we are going through somewhat of a transitional period. But I really am enjoying it, the girls are great to work with – they are hard workers, they get on with it, but there’s a real personality to the side as well; it’s been very enjoyable so far.”

Cork beat Dublin in the League Semi-Final, 1-16 to 0-13, in a performance that Fitzgerald was very satisfied with.

Donegal represent Cork’s biggest challenge to-date so far this season on Sunday. Having played one another in the regaular round of League fixtures in April, Donegal were 3-16 to 0-12 winners over Cork and Fitzgerald is hoping to avoid a similar fate on Sunday.

“Whatever happened that day, it just didn’t go right for us. Now, we were already after qualifying at that stage – whereas Donegal needed a result – but regardless, we go in to every match to win it and that one was no different.

“They gave us a good hiding, they’re a strong side, but we learnt a few lessons and it’s better to have done it in that fixture, rather than the final at the weekend. We just weren’t good enough on the day,” says Fitzgerald.

The team will make their bow in this year’s Munster Championship on 4 June against Waterford and Fitzgerald says that even though his side are looking forward to that, the focus is on Sunday’s tie.

“There’s three sections in the season; the League, Munster and the All-Ireland and we’ve a few weeks before Munster starts.

“We’ll reassess things after the game on Sunday but things are coming together. It’s great to have the likes on Bríd (Stack) back, her experience and knowledge is huge.

“The older girls are great for directing the newer members of the panel but the younger girls are well able, I’ve been hugley impressed by them.”

• Cork play Donegal in the Lidl National Ladies Football Final on Sunday. Throw-in at Parnell Park is at 4pm.

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