The batteries are recharged and she's eager to kick on.
THE batteries are recharged and she’s eager to kick on.
In the middle of last month, Orla Finn was part of the TG4 All-Star ladies’ football tour that spent almost one week in Bangkok.
While here at home, the winter clothes were used to fight off the freezing cold weather and chattering teeth, Orla and the All-Stars were soaking up the sun, a fitting reward for the game’s finest.
‘It was a bit different to be in the sun and heat in March and enjoying ourselves rather than training in the mud and the rain here,’ the Kinsale woman laughed.
‘I think there could have been snow one day at home when we were away whereas we had 34, 35 degree heat most of the time.
‘The trip was fantastic. It was great to get to know the other girls that we are usually competing against, we were able to sit back and relax and get the chance to know one another.
‘We had a training session on the Friday and a match on the Saturday in 37 degrees heat.
‘We’d a great time socially too, it was nice to step outside the league for a small bit and enjoy ourselves.’
Finn’s first league game back after the All-Star trip was a home tie in Mallow against Mayo, who are Cork’s opposition in the Division 1 semi-final this Sunday in Birr, at 3pm.
That day Finn kicked eight points (seven from frees) as the Rebels won by a single point, 1-12 to 2-8, and it followed the recent trend of tight matches between the two.
Last September it was Mayo who dethroned the then All-Ireland champions Cork by winning their semi-final 3-11 to 0-19, and with Cork also defending league champions this year – and going for six-in-a-row – they’re eager to ensure lightning doesn’t strike twice.
‘It’s going to be another battle between us,’ Finn predicted.
‘They beat us in the All-Ireland semi-final last year so they’ll be confident of beating us again but we want to prove that we are a better team than last year. And I think we are.
‘They are a physical team as well so we need to show that we can cope with the physical aspect of the game as well as everything else.
‘We need to be on top form to beat them.’
For Cork to hit top form, they need former All-Star forward Finn in top form. When she hits her stride, there are fewer better in the country. Her stats from the league are impressive.
Leaving out the loss to Donegal in the final round of games, as Cork had already qualified for the league semi-finals with a match to spare, Finn racked up 3-39 in six games, an average of eight points per game.
Running up big scores is nothing new to Finn – she scored 1-10 in last year’s league final win against Donegal – but she feels there’s more to come.
‘Things have been going good but you’d always feel that there are areas you can work on and improve on,’ the 26-year-old said.
‘I want to improve and I still think there’s a lot of room for improvement, and that’s what I’m working on, trying to get better. You have to have the attitude that you can learn from every game and every training session, and use that to get better. I’ve been happy enough with my form so far.’
Finn’s rise in the last three seasons to become the county’s number one forward says as much about her patience and temperament to wait for her chance as it does about her attacking instinct and talent.
She’s now one of the leaders in a young Cork dressing-room that has lost a world of experience in the past two seasons, and Finn, quiet by nature, leads by example rather than words.
‘I try to lead on the pitch,’ she said.
‘Everyone leads differently and I am more of a quieter person so I try to use my leadership on the pitch and do the best I can there.
‘Some girls are more comfortable talking at training whereas I like to lead on the pitch by what I do.’
The West Cork senior football management team made Finn captain last season and were delighted with her leadership qualities, and she’s exerting the same influence at inter-county level as Cork work hard to be in contention for the top prizes again.
‘We’ve had a great league campaign so far. I think it’s the best since I’ve been involved at senior level,’ she said.
‘We’re a more stable team this year.
‘There are a lot of new girls after coming on board and stepping up, and that’s been fantastic to see. Last year we lost a good few players to retirement and stepping off the panel but that was a chance for others to show what they can do and they’ve stepped up.
‘It’s a huge positive to see that there is talent coming through that is strengthening the panel.
‘That gives us confidence going forward that we can compete with and beat the best teams, and that confidence can drive you on as well.’