ON Monday Melissa Duggan was still feeling the effects of a crunching tackle late in Sunday’s league semi-final win – but it was worth the pain.
As she burst forward from defence to score a superb solo effort that put Cork 1-18 to 2-13 ahead in the second half of extra time, the Dohenys woman was upended just after she pointed.
‘I got a bang in the knee so it’s a bit swollen. Hopefully it won’t set me back too long,’ Duggan told The Southern Star.
She was one of many star performers on the Cork team as they beat reigning All-Ireland and league champions Dublin for the second league game in a row. And this one mattered. It was a league semi.
‘It showed that we are able to beat them,’ Duggan says.
‘We would take a win any day over Dublin because they have such a big squad and are such a good team.
‘We were disappointed to lose last year’s All-Ireland final to them and we are looking to get stronger. A win like this does help our belief that we are good enough to get back to an All-Ireland final this year.
‘It’s great for our belief that we have beaten them in a big game and we know ourselves that we can get better.’
Duggan is in her third season at senior inter-county but looks like she has been here for years. She realises how important it is, especially for the new faces on the panel this year, to beat Dublin and lay down a marker.
‘We have used the league to blood a lot of players and we had a few young players starting on Sunday, like Clare O’Shea and Laura O’Mahony so it was fantastic for them to start in such a big game and handle the pressure of it,’ Duggan says.
‘The Kielys have played nearly all our league games, and Laura and Clare, they have been developing. It shows because they were able to withstand the pressure and hold off Dublin in the dying minutes. That will teach us a lot.’
Next up now is the league final against Galway. Another test for Ephie Fitzgerald’s young team.
‘To get a bit of silverware would be great. We started off the league poorly enough but we have found form in the last few games so we are looking to bring that form into the final,’ the West Cork woman says.
‘We want to play as a team and as one unit – that’s our main focus this year and that’s where we feel we can improve as a team.
‘If we can go out and give a good team performance, no matter whether we win or lose, we will be happy with that. And we want to bring that forward into the Munster championship then.’