ALL-STAR defender Erika O’Shea’s return to the Cork panel for the 2023 season is a huge boost, says manager Shane Ronayne.
The Macroom woman missed last year’s championship campaign after signing for AFLW club North Melbourne in Australia on a two-year deal, but she has committed to Cork for this season’s league and championship.
O’Shea was one of the rising stars of ladies football, and had won an All-Star after her impressive 2021 campaign (just her second senior inter-county campaign), when North Melbourne signed her last season – but the 20-year-old will return to the Rebels for the campaign ahead.
Her North Melbourne team-mate, Meath star Vikki Wall, is also available to line out with the Royals this year, too.
‘Erika was only off her flight home a couple of hours when she contacted me. We met in Macroom for lunch and she told me that she is allowed to play for the season,’ Ronyane told The Southern Star.
‘Erika and Vikki met the club, said they wanted to play inter-county football for the whole season and, in fairness to North Melbourne, the club agreed.
‘Erika is very enthusiastic. We have done two training sessions since I met her, she has been at both of them. She is in great form and really looking forward to playing a big part this year.
‘She has come on as an athlete and as a person; Australia has been good to her. Physically wise she has developed. She is a huge addition and a great character around the squad.’
O’Shea’s return will strengthen Cork’s defensive options in 2023 as they look to bounce back from last year’s disappointing campaign that included an All-Ireland quarter-final exit.
Cork will be without a number of experienced players this season, as Áine Terry O’Sullivan, Martina O’Brien and Eimear Scally have all stepped away from the panel.