BY KIERAN McCARTHY
DRAWING Monaghan in the TG4 Senior Ladies Football Championship qualifiers will focus the minds of All-Ireland champions Cork, says boss Ephie Fitzgerald.
Successive defeats to Waterford and Kerry saw the Rebels relinquish their Munster crown last month â the first time since 2004 that Cork wasn't in the provincial final â and means the reigning champs will have to come through the backdoor if they want to defend the Brendan Martin Cup.
A repeat of last year's All-Ireland semi-final is on the cards as Cork have been paired with Monaghan in the qualifiers, a game to be played on Monday, August 7th.
âIt focuses the mind, absolutely,' Fitzgerald said.
âIt's a hard draw, Monaghan are a football team, they play a nice brand of football and we know them well so we're expecting a hard game. But any team we could have got in the qualifiers will be difficult. We are at the same stage now as the losers of the provincial finals so all the teams now are very competitive.
âWe're not playing until the weekend of August 5th and it's the first time in months that we've had our full panel training together excluding the girls that aren't involved.
âThe three O'Sullivans (Ciara, Doireann and RoisÃn) are back training now and hopefully they'll stay fit, and we have Orlagh Farmer back as well.
âWith all the changes we've had we've been very competitive this season and I can't ask for more than that.'
Also in the qualifiers, Laois will play Cavan, Mayo take on Kildare, while Armagh meet Westmeath.