BY KIERAN McCARTHY
BRIAN McCarthy is convinced that the West Cork ladies senior football team will turn a few heads again this season.
In their first campaign last year the divisional team went all the way to the county championship semi-final with their attacking brand of football winning many admirers, and this season West Cork are ready to take it to the next level.
If McCarthy’s team are to cause a shock this season they will have to do it the hard way after being drawn in a tough group that also includes reigning champions Mourneabbey, last year’s beaten finalists St Val’s (who now have Bríd Stack in their ranks) and Inch Rovers.
‘We want to build on what we achieved last year which was reasonably successful,’ West Cork boss McCarthy said.
‘At the outset of the championship we’re like every other team and we want to win but we have to take each game as it comes. We can’t afford to look too far ahead when you see the strong group we have been drawn in. We need to come out of that first.’
McCarthy has set West Cork a target of a top-two finish in the group stage of the championship to progress to the county semi-finals, and he’ll be looking for the team’s top inter-county players to lead the way.
While West Cork have lost the Bantry Blues contingent after they went up senior, they have been boosted by the addition of players from Beara and Clonakilty, and it’s swelled West Cork’s number of senior county players to eight.
Rebel number one Martina O’Brien and Beara duo Niamh Cotter and Áine O’Sullivan have joined Orla Finn and Aisling Judge (Kinsale), Áine Hayes (Rosscarbery), Melissa Duggan (Dohenys) and Libby Coppinger (St Colum’s) who were all involved last year.
‘Their experience is invaluable and they have an important role to play in bringing along some of the other girls,’ McCarthy explained.
‘It really is a new team this season so it takes time to integrate everyone. We are in a reasonably good place, training has gone as well as could have been expected and we’ve played a good few challenge games, including against the Cork minors on Monday night. The first few games are about trying to get to know each other and trying to win too.’
West Cork can also call on a number of Cork minors too, highlighting the conveyor belt of talent locally, with Kinsale quartet Nicole Quinn, Sadhbh O’Leary, Tracey McCarthy and Georgia Gould, Valley Rovers’ twins Daire and Eimear Kiely, and Clonakilty’s Ciara Ryan all involved.
First up on Thursday, June 29th in Kinsale, at 7.45pm, is the opening group game against champions Mourneabbey, who beat West Cork 4-12 to 1-12 in last year’s semi-final.
‘We matched Mourneabbey for 50 minutes last year before their ability and cuteness told in the end,’ McCarthy said.
‘We hope that we will be as competitive this year and match them all the way.
‘They are county champions, they have gone on to All-Ireland finals, they’re the team to beat this year. It’s a great test to start off with, we’re in at the deep end but we can’t wait. We want to push the top teams.’