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Cotter: We need to put on a show in the Páirc

February 22nd, 2019 5:00 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

West Cork footballer Niamh Cotter in action in the 2018 county senior final against Mourneabbey following her return from a year in Montreal.

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Beara woman wants Rebels to light up Páirc Uí Rinn

 

ABSENCE makes the heart grow fonder. Just ask Niamh Cotter.

The Glengarriff woman (22) wasn’t part of the Cork senior panel last year as the UCC Law International student spent the academic year studying at Université de Montréal.

After making her mark in her debut season in 2017, Niamh admits it was hard to sit out last year’s campaign as Cork went all the way to the All-Ireland final against Dublin at Croke Park.

‘As part of third year, you go international for a year away so I was studying in Montreal as part of my degree. It was Global Business Law I studied there and while I had a great year, I obviously missed the football a good bit. I know it’s a cliché but you don’t realise how much you miss it until you are away from it,’ said the Beara woman, who did line out with the Montreal Shamrocks GAA Club in her time there.

‘I was the only Irish person on the team I was with. It was incredible. The rest were from all over the world – there were French, Brazilian, South Americans, Montreal locals, all mad for road.’

After missing the 2018 league, and with university finishing up last May, the Cork management touched base with Niamh with the championship in mind.

‘The lads had been on to me about trying to set me up with a gym programme over there but I felt it was my last summer to travel so I actually ending up travelling down the east coast and I went on to Vancouver after that for the summer,’ Niamh explained.

She landed back home at the end of August and did join up up with the West Cork team that contested the county senior football final against eventual winners Mourneabbey. 

The goal was always to return to the inter-county set-up and continue on from where she finished in 2017 after becoming a regular. 

Niamh has started both Division 1 league games against Galway and Westmeath in the last few weeks and her return is a boost to Ephie Fitzgerald’s options.

‘I thought I would have struggled a bit to get up to speed but I am playing O’Connor Cup with UCC and we were back training since September so that was a big help. 

‘I play basketball with UCC too so between the two of those I’m okay fitness wise, so it’s just catching up on the skills now,’ she explained.

‘It’s brilliant to be back. I love being part of the set-up, it’s the constant striving for excellence that’s infectious and I really missed that when I was away – looking for perfection and ultimately winning games and championships.’

Winning this Saturday’s league clash against Tipperary in now a priority for Niamh and the Rebels, not only to move up the Division 1 table but because it’s the first part of a double-header with the men’s Division 2 league clash against Meath following after.

Niamh admits that it’s disappointing to miss out on playing in Páirc Uí Chaoimh where this double-header was originally meant to be held – but the pitch issues there scuppered that. 

Still, being part of a double-header with a men’s game is definite progress for the Cork ladies who are now conscious of showing a new audience what they can do.

‘It’s great that it’s a double header with the lads and it’s really important to help raise the profile of the game – but there is a certain onus on us to put in a performance,’ Niamh said.

‘It’s fantastic that ladies football has been given this platform but now we have to show people that we play good football, that we train really hard and that we put in the same hours as the lads. We know that we need to put on a performance.

‘This is a massive opportunity to showcase Cork football and show what we’re all about.’

Niamh added: ‘We’ve all dreamed of playing in Páirc Uí Chaoimh but this is more about the platform and we want more double-headers in the future, we want us playing in Páirc Uí Rinn and Páirc Uí Chaoimh to become the norm and we want people talking about us more.’

Back in the groove now, Niamh’s ready to play her part this Saturday.

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