TEN-TIME All-Ireland winning Cork ladies’ footballer Bríd Stack has issued a rallying cry ahead of Sunday’s provincial final against Kerry: We want the Munster football title back.
Stack and her teammates have dominated ladies’ football for over a decade, and have won the last five All-Irelands in a row, and 10 of the last 11 All-Irelands, but they haven’t had it all their own way in Munster.
Instead, Kerry have won two of the last three Munster championships, and they also have beaten the Rebels twice this year – in the national league in February and in round two of the provincial championship two weeks ago.
But enough is enough, insists All-Star defender Stack, as Cork are intent on regaining their position as the number one team in Munster this Sunday evening in Killarney Legion’s GAA grounds, at 7pm.
‘Winning Munster is so important to us, 100 per cent, definitely,’ the Rockchapel woman stated.
‘Every team wants to go the direct route to the knock-out stages and avoid the back-door games. We’ve been in the qualifiers before and it’s not a nice place to be, you’re fighting for your life there and anything can happen.
‘It’s important too to win the Munster title because it sets you up for the rest of the championship, it leads to a positive mood in the camp and it’s a driving force for the rest of the season.
‘There are only a few pieces of silverware that a team can win each season and the Munster championship is one of them, and after missing out on it last year we want to win it back this season.’
Stack is determined to power Cork to Munster glory this Sunday but she is also wary of a Kerry side whose stock is rising, highlighted by their recent 2-14 to 2-9 win against the Rebels in Macroom.
‘We’re very lucky that we have been given a second chance in this Munster campaign and we definitely need to grab this with two hands,’ Stack said.
‘Kerry have been a force to be reckoned with over the last few years and this season they have cemented themselves as one of the top teams in the country. The strength in depth on their bench is immense and they were able to bring on players like Emma Sherwood, Maeve O’Connell, Anna Galvin, all very good players, in the last game against us.
‘We learned a lot from that defeat and we have a lot to work on and to rectify from that game. Kerry are very well organised and very well set-up, they pack their defence and they break at speed, and the main thing we can take from that game is that hard work and hunger will count for everything on Sunday.
‘I don’t think we worked as hard as Kerry did and that’s the lesson we need to learn. Everyone has to raise their game this Sunday.’
With Kerry asking serious questions of Cork in Munster, it forces the Rebels to up their game and continuously improve, and that can only be a good thing.
‘We have been very fortunate with the success we have had but Kerry have been pushing us a lot harder in the last five years. They’re a team that’s going places so we need to be at our best to get the better of them,’ Stack said.
‘We didn’t win Munster last year or in 2013 because they have beaten us those years. Every team wants to go route one in the championship and a few times we have had to go the scenic route, all because of Kerry.’