BY DENIS HURLEY
THE league fate of the Cork ladies’ football team – and that of a few other counties – is in their own hands despite, or perhaps because of, the postponement of last week’s clash with Armagh.
Cork had been due to host the Orchard County in Ovens, but the awful weather conditions meant that Éire Óg’s venue was deemed unplayable and efforts to find an alternative were also frustrated.
With the other three Lidl NFL Division 1 games going ahead, it means that Cork are on nine points, behind four sides on 12 (three points for a win). The re-fixed game is in the new National Games Development Centre in Abbottstown on Saturday (2pm).
With a superior scoring difference to Kerry, Galway and Armagh, Ephie Fitzgerald’s team know that a win will be enough to secure a semi-final spot, while victory by three or more points will see them leapfrog Dublin into second place.
The manager doesn’t think that there is necessarily any advantage in that though, as they always knew that a win would be required.
‘It doesn’t make any difference from that point of view,’ Fitzgerald says.
‘We always knew what the story was, that we had to win to get into the semi-finals. The way the scoring difference is, a win would probably be enough for us to come second in the table.
‘It’s all about getting more matches. If you do qualify for the play-offs, it’s a guaranteed extra game, maybe two, and that’s the kind of preparation you need ahead of the championship.’
As regards last week, it was one of those things which was out of anybody’s hands, though he does reserve some sympathy for Armagh: ‘These things happen,’ he says.
‘Whatever about us, it was more unfortunate for Armagh as they had travelled all the way down on Saturday, it was a lot of expense for them for nothing in the end.
‘We tried places all over Munster, to be honest. Marion Crowley, the county secretary, was on the go all morning looking for a pitch, but there was just nowhere available at all; it was the same everywhere.
‘We’re going to Dublin now this weekend. I think, if we pushed it, we could have brought them down here again, but that would have been very unfair. You couldn’t ask Armagh to do that, we know what it’s like, the sacrifices girls make to play, how much time they give to it.’
Fitzgerald will have to plan without Valerie Mulcahy, whose retirement was announced on Wednesday. Other than the star attacker and injured duo Doireann O’Sullivan and Aisling Barrett, he will have a full squad to choose from.
‘Valerie will be a loss, she was a great servant to Cork football but you have to respect her decision,’ he says.
‘Doireann is a long-term absentee and Aisling Barrett had to have a scan this week, we’ll know more by the weekend. There’s never any point rushing something like this.’
- Aoife McCarthy of Ahiohill, Enniskeane, won an All-Ireland medal last weekend as Garda College beat UCD in the higher-education Moynihan Cup final. Aoife, a member of Keelnameela LGFC, was the top scorer in the 2-16 to 1-6 win, finishing with a personal tally of 2-3.