HE’S disappointed she has stepped back from the Cork panel for the 2023 season, but Rebels manager Shane Ronayne is leaving the door open for Áine Terry O’Sullivan.
The Allihies woman confirmed to The Southern Star that she won’t be involved with Cork this year, and that’s a big blow to the Rebels.
O’Sullivan, who made her senior county debut in 2014, has been one of the top forwards in the county for the last decade and has an eye for goals. She won three senior All-Irelands, was named in the LGFA 2020 Senior Team of the Championship, and was crowned the 2018 Munster GAA Ladies Football Player of the Year.
O’Sullivan started two out of Cork’s three championship games in 2022, and came on in the quarter-final loss to Mayo.
‘The reality is that I am disappointed she has decided to step back,’ Ronayne told The Southern Star.
‘Áine has moved back to Allihies, she is probably looking at the commute up and down and there is a lot of travelling involved, she has given a lot to Cork over the last decade and felt it was time to take a break this year.
‘We told her if she changed her mind then the door would be open for her. We are disappointed because Áine played very well last year and we had her pencilled in for a big part this year. The door is not closed so if she changes her mind or wants to come back next year, we know how good she is.’
O’Sullivan’s decision to step away from the Cork panel follows similar moves from Clonakilty goalkeeper Martina O’Brien and Éire Óg forward Eimear Scally, but Cork will be boosted by the return of All-Star defender Erika O’Shea, who lined out with North Melbourne in the AFLW last year. Key players like Doireann O’Sullivan and Ciara O’Sullivan have also committed for 2023, while Ronayne has freshened up his panel with the addition of players who caught the eye with their club form last season.
Castlehaven’s Rachel Whelton, injured at the moment, is expected to link up with the panel, while Caoimhe O’Callaghan (Kinsale), Isabel Sheehan (Éire Óg), Naomh Abán duo Roisín Corkery and Amy McDonagh, Bride Rovers goalkeeper Sarah Murphy and Ellen Twomey (Glanmire) are all part of the squad ahead of the league which throws in on January 22nd. The Kiely twins, Daire and Eimear, are also involved again this season.
‘We are very happy with what we have, there has been a huge effort since we started the gym in September,’ Ronayne said.
Of the 41 players currently training, 21 are new additions from last year’s group. There are ten minors on the panel, as well as Rachel Leahy, and the dual contingent, including All-Star Libby Coppinger, Hannah Looney, Meabh Cahalane and Orlaith Cahalane.
Cork’s first game of the Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1 campaign is away to Mayo on the opening weekend (January 22nd).