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All-Star Cork defender Melissa Duggan feels Rebels are closing the gap to Dublin

January 17th, 2021 5:30 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Cork star Melissa Duggan - from Ballyboy, Dunmanway - is rated as one of the top defenders in the country.

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MELISSA Duggan feels Cork are close to catching up with All-Ireland champions Dublin.

The Dohenys footballer got up close and personal with the Dubs in last year’s TG4 All-Ireland senior football final on December 20th, but the Rebels came off second best.

Despite leading by three points at half time Cork only added two points in the second half as Dublin took over to win 1-10 to 1-5 and be crowned All-Ireland champions for the fourth year in a row.

Duggan admits that the Dubs are still out in front but she feels that Cork have closed the gap and have room for improvement.

‘We showed in the first half that we are on par with them, at their level, but they had a gear in them that we didn’t have,’ Duggan told the Star Sport Podcast.

‘I think we matched them in terms of football but I think they have an edge over us with their power and strength.

‘They manage the game better than we do at the moment, they have been at it for seven or eight years, they are all experienced footballers whereas we are a team, not in transition anymore, that wants to be winning finals and winning the big games.

‘We have to look at what went wrong in the second half and learn how to manage our game better, and to match that physicality that Dublin bring to the game because if we can do that we will be able to beat them.

‘The gap is tiny, hopefully we can close it, but there is still more improvement that we need to make in our game this year if we want to be on par with Dublin.’

Ephie Fitzgerald’s Cork team will learn lessons from their All-Ireland final heartbreak, insists Duggan, and they know they need a more consistent performance if they want to knock the Dubs off their perch.

‘It was very disappointing, we were up at half time and everything was going well for us but we just underperformed in the second half and you can’t do that in an All-Ireland final, especially against Dublin,’ All-Star defender Duggan says.

‘If you slacken in any way, shape or form, it costs you, and it definitely did for us.

‘We have to look at this individually and collectively as a team, and hopefully we can get a good start to 2021, go from there and get back in the final again.’

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