Tuesday 21 August 2018

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Cork on the hunt for final spot

Thursday, 9th August, 2018 9:07am

Cork Ladies Football manager Ephie Fitzgerald believes the tremendous work-rate of his players could send them back into an All-Ireland final after last year’s heartache.

The 11-time champions will face-off against Donegal in this year’s dream All-Ireland semi-final on 18 August. The 8-18 to 1-6 victory over Westmeath on Monday highlighted Cork’s huge squad depth. Saoirse Noonan scored 1-5 after her introduction in the 38th minute, as Cork made it 23 goals in eight games this season.

Fitzgerald knows tougher tests await as they clash with the Ulster champions in the final four. Cork were dumped out at this stage last year when Mayo shocked them. But the win over Westmeath was another step towards redemption.

“It was very one-sided. We scored a goal after a minute and it was plain-sailing. It was a strange match for an All-Ireland quarter-final in that it was so lop-sided,” said Fitzgerald.

“We can only go out and give a performance as best we can. But there are bigger things ahead for us obviously with Donegal. They are a fairly formidable outfit but we will go away and give it our best over the next couple of weeks.

“We have a strong panel of players to pick from. We can bring on girls who are every bit as good as the players who are on there. So that gives us a bit of a bonus as well.

“But Donegal are very good. When you look at their forward line - Geraldine McLaughlin, Yvonne Bonner, the Hegarty girls. They are a powerful unit.

“It will be a good football game and we are looking forward to it. People are saying we haven’t been tested but that’s testament to the girls and the work they are putting in.”

Cork were already 3-5 to 0-3 ahead at half-time at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick, with Libby Coppinger, Eimear Scally and Áine O’Sullivan scoring goals. Doireann O’Sullivan, Noonan, Scally and Ciara O’Sullivan (two) added further goals in the second half.

The Rebels have won 11 of the 12 Brendan Martin Cups on offer between 2005 and 2016. Now they are just 60 minutes away from another decider.

Dublin were crowned champions in Cork’s absence last year, but Westmeath manager Stephen Maxwell believes Cork could be back on top this time around.

“Over the last 12 years Cork have been the best team in the country and they are probably back to their best now. Dublin had the All-Ireland win last year but Cork are absolutely flying it, and I don’t envy Donegal trying to do what we had to today,” said Maxwell.

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