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‘We have Waterford next – that is a proverbial six-pointer,’ says Cork boss Shane Ronayne after league loss to Kerry

February 8th, 2024 3:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

Cork forward Emma Cleary takes on Kerry's Ciara Murphy during the Division 1 clash on bank holiday Monday. (Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile)

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Kerry 2-14 

Cork 0-7

THE pressure is mounting on a Cork senior team that suffered a chastening Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1 defeat to Kerry on bank holiday Monday.

Suffering a second loss on the bounce, it leaves Cork mid-table after three rounds, but unlike their previous two-point defeat against Armagh, there could be no disputing that the Rebels were second best to Kerry all afternoon at Austin Stack Park in Tralee.

The visitors managed just seven points, only two from open play, and from two different scorers. Therein lies the issue: Cork’s inability to spread their scores since the start of the league campaign.

For the third game running, Katie Quirke was Shane Ronayne’s side’s most influential scorer with six points, but five of those were from frees. A returning Laura O’Mahony was Cork’s only other contributor on the scoreboard. Unsurprisingly, the Cork manager did not mince his words when assessing his team’s display.

‘We would be very disappointed with our own display, especially up front,’ Ronayne told The Southern Star.

‘We had plenty of opportunities but that’s something to work on. Kerry were outstanding though. They are operating at a way higher level than we are at the moment. That’s the reality of it.

‘The challenge for us is to get our players up to that level of inter-play and work rate. Physically, I thought we were well able for them. The inter-play, we haven’t got going on it yet.

‘On the plus side, Laura O’Mahony played her first game back. Kate Redmond, it was her first start and she did a good job at wing-back. Abbie O’Mahony is just back from her club activities as well.’

Cork manager Shane Ronayne reacts during the 2024 Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1 Round 3 loss to Kerry.
(Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile)

Kerry enjoyed the benefit of a strong wind in the opening half but it was Cork who broke the deadlock courtesy of a Katie Quirke free. The home side responded via Niamh Carmody (free) and Hannah O’Donoghue before Quirke’s second free made it 0-2 apiece.

Laura O’Mahony restored Cork’s lead but that’s as good as it got for the Rebels. The remainder of the half saw a dominant Kerry assume total control. Putting increasing pressure on Cork’s kick-outs, Niamh Carmody (two frees), Emma Dineen, Niamh Ní Chonchúir and Hannah O’Donoghue raised unanswered white flags to make it 0-7 to 0-3 at the short whistle.

Kerry easily kept Cork at arm's length during the third quarter and maintained a 0-10 to 0-5 lead before a plethora of substitutions from both teams. Those introductions included Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh, and the 2023 Footballer of the Year was quickly on the scoresheet, kicking a point and free.

The Rebels’ cause wasn’t helped by a yellow card brandished to Shauna Cronin with ten minutes to go.  Kerry remained in the ascendancy as Danielle O’Leary edged her side eight points later shortly before the end.

A pair of Katie Quirke frees offered brief respite before Cork’s defence was opened up and Hannah O’Donoghue netted a sublime goal before adding another point. An injury-time Danielle O’Leary goal rubbed salt in Cork’s wounds.

Now, all eyes are on Cork’s next opponents, Waterford, in what has become a must-win home game for Shane Ronayne’s side on February 18th.

‘We will have to find our feet very quickly because we have Waterford next – that is a proverbial six-pointer,’ Ronayne said. ‘If Waterford win that then they go ahead of us on the head-to-head. It is a huge game for us in a very difficult division. Galway and Waterford are down there with us. We have three points but it is very tight down there.

‘Certainly, we know that if we are performing the way we performed against Kerry then we are going to be in trouble. Look, we have just got to work harder.’

A forgettable afternoon in Tralee means the pressure is on Cork to start delivering or face the prospect of a relegation battle.

Scorers - Kerry: H O’Donoghue 1-3; D O’Leary 1-2; N Carmody 0-3 (3f); E Dineen, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh (1f) 0-2 each; N Ní Chonchúir, L Scanlon 0-1 each. Cork: K Quirke 0-6 (5f); L O’Mahony 0-1.

Kerry: M Bolger; E Lynch, D Kearney, C O’Brien; A O’Connell, C Lynch, C McCarthy; A Harrington, M O’Connell; N Carmody, N Ní Chonchúir, A Galvin; K Brosnan, E Dineen, H O’Donoghue. Subs: D O’Leary for K Brosnan (23), L Scanlon for M O’Donnell (ht), C Murphy for C McCarthy (43), L Ní Mhuircheartaigh for N Ní Chonchúir (45), A Ryan for L O’Mahony (49), E Hurley for D Kiely (51), J Gill for N Carmody (55), F O’Donoghue for D Kearney (57), B O’Connor for A O’Connell (57), R Smith for A Harrington (60), E O’Connor for A Galvin (60), J Lucey for E Dineen (60).

Cork: S Murphy; L Coppinger, S Leahy, D Kiniry; M Duggan, M O’Callaghan, K Redmond; A McDonagh, S Cronin; D Kiely, H Looney, L O’Mahony; S O’Leary, K Quirke, E Cleary. Subs: E Jack for A McDonagh (42), R Corkery for E Cleary (42), L McDonagh for S O’Leary (45), A O’Mahony for H Looney (45).

Referee: P McCaughey (Westmeath).

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