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Cork ladies’ football boss Shane Ronayne targets Group 3 top spot and home advantage in last eight

June 14th, 2024 7:00 AM

By Sean Holland

Cork ladies’ football boss Shane Ronayne targets Group 3 top spot and home advantage in last eight Image
Valley Rovers' Eimear Kiely made a welcome return to action after 12 months out with an ACL injury.

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FOLLOWING a comprehensive 23-point win over Laois, Cork ladies football boss Shane Ronayne is eyeing up top spot in Group 3 to give his side a home All-Ireland quarter-final.

With the memory of last season’s strenuous away quarter-final journey fresh in their minds, the Rebels are determined to avoid any repeat and capitalise on the opportunity for home advantage.

‘Last year we ended up having to travel away to Armagh because we had been beaten by Galway in the group stage. That was a very difficult journey and we just about scraped past Armagh up there. The carrot of a home quarter-final getting to face a second-place team from another group is huge. That means you're avoiding the top seeds and the big guns for another round and you give yourself a very good chance of progressing further,’ Ronayne told The Southern Star.

Cork’s shot at top spot this Saturday – the Rebels host Galway in MTU, Bishopstown at 1pm – was made possible by the 6-13 to 1-5 victory over Laois. Naturally, given the result, Ronayne was extremely pleased with his side's efforts.

‘We were delighted with the performance. The work rate and the attitude of the players was excellent,’ he said.

A notable aspect of the Laois game was Cork's successful reintegration of key players and the introduction of new talent. Ronayne highlighted the debut of 16-year-old Ava McAuliffe, who made a remarkable impact by scoring two goals in her senior debut.

‘All the players who came on did very well. We were delighted to get game time into the likes of Eimear Kiely who’s back after 12 months with a cruciate ligament injury,’ Ronayne said.

‘Hannah Looney, who hasn't seen a lot of action there lately, played very well when she came on and Shauna Cronin has been injured so we got game time into her too. Then we were able to rest a few of our bigger players to mind them for next week. Katie Quirke, Maire O’Callaghan, Rachel Leahy, we were able to mind them.

‘I was delighted too with Ava McAuliffe making her debut. She's only a few weeks shy of her 17th birthday, and she got two goals, so I was very happy with that. It was a good bounce back from the Munster final, but we know we have a few things to improve on then for Galway as well,’ he admitted.

Looking ahead to the Galway tie on Saturday, Ronayne is acutely aware of the stakes and the threat his opponents possess. Having played a lot more competitive football in the last few weeks, the Cork boss feels his side must take advantage of their championship fitness against the Tribeswomen.

‘We know that we have a huge task ahead of us against Galway. They've really improved as the year has gone on because they got their Kilkerrin-Clonberne players back; they have won three club All-Irelands in a row and they're making a huge difference,’ Ronayne noted.

‘They were very good in the Connacht final. They ended up beating Mayo very comfortably. They kept Mayo scoreless for a long period of that match, so we certainly have to raise our game. We have the advantage of having a few games under our belt. The Laois game was our fifth championship game. Galway have only played one. We have to try and make that advantage count early in the game. We have home advantage on Saturday in MTU, hopefully we'll have a decent crowd there and we hope the group we have is ready for that.’

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