Cork’s Saoirse McCarthy takes on Niamh Deely of Kilkenny during the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship quarter-final match at Croke Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Testing trip north for ladies footballers

With the camogie girls having secured their semi-final spot last weekend, it’s the turn of the ladies footballers on Saturday as they head to Armagh for their quarter-final.

TG4 Ladies Football All-Ireland QF

Cork v Armagh at theAthletic Grounds Armagh on Saturday at 3.30pm

“It is where we want to be; obviously we would prefer to be at home, but look it is what it is and we are looking forward to trip, everything is in place, heading up on Friday, and ready to go.” Cork manager Shane Roynane on their meeting with Armagh on Saturday.

Armagh are having a very good season, unbeaten and winning the Division 2 league title, with a good campaign in the Ulster Championship despite losing to Donegal in the final, but they rebounded to win their 2 group games and earn a home quarter-final.

Shane is aware of all these and has been impressed. “They have been very good all season - might have been a bit complacent in the Ulster Final but the manner in which they re-grouped shows how good they are.”

That said, they are playing in Division 2 while Cork are in the top division, but Shane makes the point, that “Kerry were a Division 2 side last year and made it to the All-Ireland final, so we won’t be taken anything for granted on Saturday”.

There was a boost on Tuesday when it was confirmed that Ciara O’Sullivan was cleared to play having the red card received in the win over Tipperary rescinded following an appeal on Monday night.

“Absolutely delighted for Ciara, I felt on the day it was harsh and thankfully the appeal process, (hearing on Monday night) which was very fair, agreed and she is an important and experienced player for us.”

The win over Tipperary was facile and as a contest was over early and that pleased Shane as did the impact off the bench. “It was very easy and that made for a comfortable afternoon and we able to get players on and look forward to the quarter-final with that in mind, but our squad is developing all the time and we now have depth and are in a good place.”

The other factor of course, is there is no issue with dual players all fit and ready to go. “Yes that’s important. For the first game in the championship, we have a full panel to choose from as we are facing a tough task on Saturday; we need to put 2 good games back to back something we haven’t done yet, but we are ready and hopefully we can get the job done.”

One of those players that helped get the job done early on against Tipperary was Anna Ryan, despite wearing the number 5 jersey and spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin who bagged 2 goals in the game.

“Obviously it’s a long journey but we are delighted to be in the quarter-final and excited for the trip, and confident we can win but not complacent.”

The Mourneabbey player is realising an ambition to play with the Cork seniors. “It’s fantastic really and the fact that so many of my clubmates are on the panel helps and of course Shane as well made it easy but all the players are excellent and there’s a great bond in the team.”

While a defender, Anna loves to venture forward. “While defending is a priority, we are encouraged to get forward when the opportunity comes, and thankfully I managed to get the goals which was a nice feeling.”

Games between these two sides are rare enough, principally because they were operating at different levels, but the girls from the Orchard County have shown what they are capable of, evidenced by their win over Mayo last time out, coming from 5 points down.

They have good quality players all over the field, none more so then Aimee Mackin. She held her nerve late in that game to convert the match winning penalty having had a first half penalty saved.

Mackin is a key player for them and if she can be contained, then Cork will be in a good position.

Kelly Mallon, Niamh Reel, Lauren McConville, Louise Kenny, Niamh Marley and Catriona Hagan have all played important in a team nicely moulded together by manager Shane McCormack.

Inconsistency, as Shane said is a concern, for Cork but this is a very experienced side and well versed in the art of winning.

In Doireann and Ciara O’Sullivan, Mellissa Duggan, Libby Coppinger, Hannah Looney, Anna Ryan, Daire and Eimear Kiely, Emma Cleary and Maire O’Callaghan, they have a strong well-balanced team that look well equipped to progress to a semi-final meeting with either Dublin or Donegal on Saturday 29 July in Thurles.

County finals

While the main championships have yet to start, football on the 27-29 July and hurling a week later, two very important finals are down for decision over the weekend and for the clubs involved, it’s the biggest day of their season.

On Friday in the Confined Junior C Football it’s Lismire v Ballinacurra in Páirc Uí Rinn at 7.30pm while at the same venue on Saturday at 3.30pm in the B grade, Ballyphehane play St Oliver Plunkett’s.

Divisional and colleges section

The draws for the semi-finals of these were made during the week and in football Carbery will play Duhallow on 23 August in Páirc Uí Rinn, while UCC received a bye into the final.

In hurling on the same night in Mallow (TBC), UCC will meet Avondhu, with Imokilly getting a bye into the final.

Both finals will be played on Sunday 27 August in Páirc Uí Rinn. At 5.45pm, it’s the football final, with the hurling decider to follow at 7.30pm.

The winners of both competitions go into the QF final of their respective championships.

It’s possible a team that could play just 1 game to achieve that as UCC have yet to play in either code and Imokilly hurlers have yet to play, as they were both seeded. If they reach the last 8, they will meet a club team that will have played 3 games to get to the same stage.

The possibility of course is they could meet a dual club, some of whose players will have played, 6 tough games in a 7 week period, there’s a break week factored in.

That to me, does not seem fair and it is something that County Board executive should look at for next season.


There were mixed results for Cork over the weekend. The Intermediate campaign ended in a defeat to Meath and a season that saw them win their league and the Munster Championship ended in a whimper.

It was a very poor performance in which only a few players measured up on the day and I wonder was there a degree of complacency in their approach to the game, having beaten the same opposition twice last season.

It was a significant win for the seniors beating the champions Kilkenny - the first time in 5 attempts that they have beaten one of the so called big 2, Galway the other, in a major game and in Croke Park at that.

The winning margin was only 1 point, but it should have been a lot more with a number of goal scoring opportunities spurned and denied 2 clear penalties by a shocking refereeing performance in the last few minutes.

Crucially Cork won a tight game, in the recent past such results have gone against them and the manner of this victory will in my view stand to them.

The other important factor to take from the game, is the impact off the bench, with Laura Hayes, Ashling Thompson and Orla Cronin getting game time and all three made telling contributions, which will make picking the team for the semi-final v Galway in Nowlan Park on Saturday week very interesting.

Final point: all credit to the players for the manner in which they handled the pre-match disruption, which showed a calmness and experience within the squad.

Thanks also the Irish Rail and Garda Traffic for ensuring we all made it to HQ on time.