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‘Cork legends deserve time to make call over futures'

March 19th, 2017 12:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Safe hands: All-Ireland winning goalkeeper Martina O'Brien from Ballinascarthy is one of the most experienced players on the Cork senior ladies football panel. (Photo: Tom Russell)

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All-Ireland champs to hold golf classic at end of March

 

BY DENIS HURLEY

 

CORK ladies’ football goalkeeper Martina O’Brien believes that her teammates who have yet to decide on whether to play this year have earned the right to make that call themselves.

Multiple All-Ireland medallists Bríd Stack, Briege Corkery, Rena Buckley and Deirdre O’Reilly have yet to feature for Ephie Fitzgerald’s side this year, but it hasn’t dented Cork’s progress too much as three wins from four leave them top of the Lidl NFL Division 1 table.

This Saturday, Cork travel to St Tiarnach’s Park in Clones to face Monaghan, and Ballinascarthy native O’Brien feels that if any or all of the quartet do return, it will be a bonus, but their current absence is allowing others to shine.

‘I don’t really know what decisions they will make, to be honest,’ she says, ‘but they deserve the time to make them, even if it was to take another two months.

‘They have all been fantastic servants for Cork and they probably need time to chill out and take stock. It would be great for team and management if they did come back, it would only strengthen us, but performances this year have been excellent.

‘You’d have been a bit worried at the start of the year maybe, but the likes of Ciara O’Sullivan, Orla Finn and Róisín Phelan have shown great leadership and the new girls coming in have settled very well. Everybody is putting in the effort.’

After Monaghan, Cork host Galway a week later and Donegal the week after that as intensity begins to build towards the championship. And, as the team tries to tee themselves up for another good year, replenishing the players’ fund is a key priority. While 11 All-Irelands in 12 years should ordinarily have sponsors queuing up, the nature of ladies’ football means that the team must undertake fundraising themselves.

Having held a successful golf classic at Castlemartyr GC two years ago, this year a similar event will be held at Mallow GC on the last two days of March. It is Clonakilty clubwoman O’Brien’s job to co-ordinate and she is hopeful of support from the public.

‘This is for the team fund rather than a holiday fund,’ she says, ‘we try to do something every two years.

‘Ideally, we would have been able to publicise this for longer, but it has been hard with girls being away in college and with work and things like that. We have two weeks now to get things in order.

‘We’ll have a team holiday in April, though we paid for that ourselves. The team fund is just for whatever you might need, like sandwiches after training or things like that.

‘There are a lot of teams under the county board’s control and not enough for everybody so this is a necessary undertaking. Obviously, any club or charity in the country is having to ask the same people all the time but we’re hoping to get backing from this, each girl on the panel – 35 or so – is trying to get three or four teams each. Whatever we raise, we’ll work with.’

 

• The Cork ladies’ football golf classic takes place at Mallow GC on Thursday and Friday, March 30th and 31st. Teams of three are €200 each with meal included, while tee-box sponsorship is €50. For more information, call 086-8683300 or email [email protected]

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