There is a palpable buzz around the Cork ladies’ senior football camp during All-Ireland final week, but Bantry Blues star Emma Spillane is not underestimating the challenge champions Dublin will pose.
‘It (All-Ireland final week) is new to a lot of us as we have a lot of new players on the panel this year,’ the Bantry stalwart admitted.
‘A lot of us are “new” from last year as it is. Ephie (Fitzgerald) and his backroom team have brought an awful lot of new girls into the mix. The likes of Martina, Doireann and Ciara have all been there before, but the entire squad is buzzing because it is great to be training at this time of the year. This is where all footballers want to be.
‘We know we have a tough test ahead of against Dublin as they were there last year. They are the reigning champions, so we know that it is going to be a very tough game. They have excellent players like Sinéad Aherne and Noelle Healy. You know it is going to be a tough test when you are playing against girls of that calibre.
‘We are looking forward to it but know it wonít be easy.’
In a year Ephie Fitzgerald brought through a plethora of new and untried players, Cork’s backroom team worked wonders in helping develop a winning yet happy dressing room atmosphere. The importance of helping so many younger girls settle into the senior set-up is not lost on Emma Spillane who went through the exact same process not that long ago.
‘We are a very self-motivated group but the Cork management team have introduced a real professional set-up this year,’ Spillane noted.
‘Down to the food we are eating, the video analysis, they have definitely helped us with that. Kevin Tattan has been absolutely phenomenal for us. He has put so much work in, day and night, at training and away from training. I don’t think we could be any more prepped for this game.
‘It is the same with Ephie (Fitzgerald), James (Masters) and all the other members of the Cork backroom team. They have all put a huge amount of work into us this year and it has really shown in our results.
‘The last few weeks, especially, we have been a lot stronger than some of the teams we have played. We have definitely been up to the physical challenges because of all the work that has been done.’
Such a relaxed but diligent dressing room atmosphere has helped the newer members of the Cork senior panel settle in quickly. That in turn has helped push the more established players to up their game with competition for places hotting up as the season progressed.
‘The transition for any of the younger players coming in has been quite smooth,’ Emma Spillane concurred.
‘Doing our gym work together has helped deal with the physicality of senior inter-county football. The management team has put in a huge effort on our behalf so now we are all just looking forward to the game on Sunday.’