WATCH Melissa Duggan go this season – that’s a prediction from Cork ladies football manager Shane Ronayne.
The new-look Rebels begin their 2023 Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1 campaign away to Mayo on Sunday (1.30pm) without a number of familiar faces.
Ronayne, however, is hoping for big things from Dohenys All-Star defender Duggan who has been a central figure in the county senior panel since 2017.
‘Melissa was away for a few months, she is very refreshed, and she is in great form,’ Roynane told this week’s Star Sport Podcast.
‘She has moved home so is not in Dublin or Galway anymore, and she had a lot of travelling to do in the last few years, so I think you’re going to see a new Melissa this year.’
The Cork boss also revealed that Ciara O'Sullivan and Doireann O'Sullivan (both recovering from injuries) won’t be involved in the early stages of the league, while Roisin Phelan is on an extended honeymoon. In the off-season Cork have also lost Orla Finn and Martina O’Brien to retirement, while Áine Terry O’Sullivan and Eimear Scally have opted off the panel. A big plus, though, is the return of All-Star defender Erika O’Shea.
The league is a chance, Ronayne feels, to give youth its fling as he sets out his target for the campaign.
‘It’s going to be difficult to get to a league final; you are looking to win five or six games out of the seven and that’s a tall order,’ he admitted.
‘Obviously, we want to stay up. That’s number one, because we really are going to use the league to blood new players because it’s very important that we go into the summer with a strong squad.
‘What we definitely need to improve on from last year is that our intensity in training in the lead up to championship games needs to go up.’