BY KIERAN McCARTHY
CORK are determined to reclaim their TG4 Munster senior football championship ladies’ crown this summer, according to manager Ephie Fitzgerald.
All-Ireland and league winners Cork take on reigning provincial champs Kerry in Macroom this Friday evening, at 7.30pm, in a round two game that, in all probability, is a dress rehersal for the final itself next month.
Last year, Kerry wrestled the Munster crown off Cork with a commanding 2-13 to 2-4 final win in Mallow, and earlier this year the Kingdom got the better of the Rebels in the league, before Cork went on a winning run that ended in league glory, again.
Having beaten Waterford, 1-10 to 0-7, in their opening Munster championship game last month, Cork know a win on Friday will guarantee them a place in the final. But, considering that Kerry and Waterford are yet to meet in the provincinal series, even a defeat on Friday shouldn’t cost Cork their place in the final, with Kerry likely to overcome the Déise.
‘We’re expecting a big challenge. Kerry went out in the semi-final of the league so they’ll be well up for this one, plus the fact that they are Munster champions so they won’t want to give up that title easily,’ Fitzgerald said.
‘This is their first game in the Munster series, they play Waterford in a few weeks’ time and there’s a good chance we could meet again in the Munster final, so this is an awkward game in some ways.
‘This is where the championship starts for us, it helps focus the mind. It’s a Cork and Kerry clash, and having the game in Macroom adds to it too. We trained there on Wednesday night.
‘We weren’t at our best at all against Waterford, but that game came the week after winning the league final, which was a hard match. We are looking for a performance on Friday.
‘We gave our team ten days off after the Waterford game so they came back refreshed and we are looking forward to the challenge on Friday night.
‘Obviously, Kerry won Munster last year but it’s a competition that we are determined to win this year,’ added the Cork manager, in his first season in charge. Orla Farmer isn’t available for this game, while Vera Foley and Marie Ambrose are struggling with injury, with Fitzgerald rating their chances of starting as less than 50/50. Doireann O’Sullivan and Maire O’Callaghan returned to training this week but they won’t be available for Friday.
Cork have four dual players this season in Briege Corkery, Rena Buckley, Hannah Looney and Libby Coppinger, with the Cork camogie team in action on Saturday evening in their opening championship game.