BY GER McCARTHY
ORLA Finn is back and ready for action.
The Kinsale and Cork forward missed the round-seven league win (2-13 to 2-8) against Dublin at Mallow after she was ruled out after suffering from concussion – but, now fully recovered, she is back in the starting team for the Division 1 league semi-final against the Dubs this Sunday at Nowlan Park.
‘I suffered a bang on the head against Donegal and have been out with a concussion for the last number of weeks,’ says Finn, who had scored six points against the Ulster women in the 3-16 to 0-4 win before she was taken off in the second half.
‘The symptoms were slow to manifest themselves so I actually played against Mayo a week after the Donegal game. I didn’t feel right, probably shouldn’t have played and I missed a good chunk of training up until recently.
‘I am back in full contact training with the last while so hopefully I will get a chance to show what I can do against Dublin at the weekend.’
A fully-fit Finn is a major asset to Ephie Fitzgerald’s side against All-Ireland champions Dublin, who beat Cork in last year’s final at Croke Park.
The Rebels regrouped from that loss and while some of the early league performances this year were not great, there were mitigating factors including an influx of previously untried talent along with the Mourneabbey contingent’s hiatus following their All-Ireland club final triumph.
Since then, an upturn in form has helped propel Cork into the last four and an opportunity to atone for last season’s loss to Mayo at the same juncture in the league.
‘At the start of the year there was a massive transition of players and a lot of new girls came into the senior team for the first time,’ Finn says.
‘Ephie and James (Masters) gave them a chance and they really stepped up to the challenge. We were without the Mourneabbey players at the start of the year as well but the experience the younger players gained is really going to stand to us for the rest of the year.
‘Cork has a massive squad now and huge competition for places. Trying to pick a starting team is a bit of a nightmare for management at the moment and that’s because the players who came in at the start of the year are really pushing for their place.’
Sunday’s meeting with Dublin brings together two of the country’s top football teams. No surprise then to hear the tempo has been raised during Cork’s recent training sessions.
‘Dublin are a brilliant team and you can never be complacent when facing them as they are so fast and physical,’ Finn stated.
‘We have played them a lot over the last number of years and know exactly what they will bring. Yes, we faced each other a couple of weeks ago and managed to get a win but we were both already through to the semi-finals. This Sunday will prove to be another challenge for us.
‘Hopefully, we can match them physically and I believe the new girls in our set-up will drive us on. We have a massive panel now and that should stand to us on the day.’
In the recent league win against Dublin, and in top scorer Finn’s absence, Niamh Cotter and Maire O’Callaghan scored the goals while Rhona Ní Bhuachalla finished with six points. That result meant that Cork ended the group stages of the league in second place.