CORK boss Shane Ronayne and his senior football panel are stepping up their preparations following the ratification of the 2022 TG4 All-Ireland LGFA senior championship format.
Cork will begin their quest to capture the 2022 All-Ireland senior title in a Munster semi-final in Dungarvan on May 15th against a Waterford team they defeated (1-14 to 0-14) in their final National League Division 1B outing that staved off the threat of relegation.
‘We have been training very hard and put in a very intensive block of training since our last competitive game against Waterford,’ Ronayne told The Southern Star.
‘That block of training is still on-going and is something we hadn’t been able to put in previously because of the short run-in to the national league campaign. The players have been training very hard over the last couple of weeks and we have completed a number of challenge games. We have another couple more challenges lined up over the next couple of weeks as well.
‘We are very happy with the way things have gone. The players have bought into what we are doing and can see the benefits of what we are trying to attain. We are now getting time to work with the players and to implement the style of play we want to play.’
The format for this year’s LGFA senior championship sees 13 counties competing for the Brendan Martin Cup. Galway, Mayo (Connacht), Dublin, Westmeath, Meath (Leinster), Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Tipperary (Munster), Armagh, Cavan, Donegal, Monaghan (Ulster) will be split into three groups of three teams and one group of four.
The LGFA has confirmed that each group participant will play one another once with the top two qualifying for this year’s All-Ireland senior quarter-finals. A draw is yet to take place determining the make-up of each of those groups.
Ronayne is not focussing on the recent championship format announcement. For now, the Cork manager and his players are zeroing in on Munster semi-final opponents Waterford and nothing else.
‘We were well ahead in the second half of this year’s league game but Waterford kept plugging away, that’s the way they are, they don’t give up and have a lot of very good players,’ Ronayne said. ‘Anytime you go to Dungarvan, it is a tough game. I know from down through the years, they are a very sticky side and are very well coached. Waterford do not lack belief. They do not fear Cork. That’s why we have to be ready. Cork must treat every single team we play with the utmost respect. That’s the way our players are approaching things this year.
‘No one is looking any further than May 15th. That is the first date in our calendar this year and the only date we are looking at. We know if we want to achieve bigger things in the senior championship that we have to get over that game first.’
Thinking positively, if Cork win this year’s Munster championship it would give Ronayne’s squad a higher seeding in the All-Ireland championship group format. There is also the added bonus of the 2022 Munster LGFA final preceding its male counterpart as part of a double-header.
‘You’d have one eye on the rest of the summer and what group you might be in,’ Ronayne admitted.
‘Our plan is to try and win the Munster championship. We have to beat Waterford first. Hopefully, we can reach the Munster final on May 28th. That is a big deal this year as it is to be played before the men’s game, wherever that is going to be.
‘That’s a big boost for ladies football. We would love to be involved in that occasion but that is as far as we are looking ahead right now.’