THERE’S a very strong West Cork presence on the Cork ladies team that will take on Donegal in the Lidl National Football League Division 1 final this Sunday in Parnell Park, at 4pm.
Goalkeeper Martina O’Brien (Clonakilty), Emma Spillane (Bantry Blues) and Melissa Duggan (Dohenys) in defence, midfielder Niamh Cotter (Beara), and Libby Coppinger (St Colum’s) and Orla Finn (Kinsale) in attack all start for the Rebels.
This is the first time that Cork and Donegal will be meeting in a Lidl National Football League final and the level of experience of both sides going into this match couldn’t be much different.
Cork come into this match on the trail of their fifth Division 1 title in a row and what would be their 11th since 2005. Donegal, on the other hand, are contesting their first ever Division 1 final although they were victorious in the Division 2 decider last May.
Cork are coming into this match without the services of their captain Ciara O’Sullivan, who, along with her sister and regular Cork starter, Roisín, are away travelling. Despite these losses this Cork side are showing no signs of weakness. Bríd Stack is starting to get back to her best following her return to the panel in April whilst Ciara’s position has been filled by her own sister, and new captain, Doireann O’Sullivan. In the past there has been a criticism that Cork were overly dependent on one or two scorers; however, their inside forward line of O’Sullivan, Orla Finn and form player Eimear Scally is full of potential.
Donegal have been the form team in the country and their dismantling of Galway in the semi-final was further proof of their soaring confidence levels.
This Donegal team is a well-balanced and disciplined unit who are extremely strong in defence where Ciara Hegarty is the rock at the heart of their rearguard. Their midfield of Katie Herron and Karen Guthrie is a dominant pairing with Niamh Hegarty providing the creative spark from centre forward.
The most influential players on the Donegal team are undoubtedly their dynamic pairing in the full forward line of Geraldine McLaughlin and Yvonne McMonagle who have scored 12-36 between them in their last four matches together since McMonagle returned to the panel in March.
Cork team v Donegal: Martina O’Brien (Clonakilty); Marie Ambrose (St Val’s), Roisín Phelan (Aghada), Emma Spillane (Bantry Blues); Melissa Duggan (Dohenys), Bríd Stack (St Mary’s), Shauna Kelly (Araglen Desmonds Buí); Niamh Cotter (Beara), Jess O’Shea (Inch Rovers); Libby Coppinger (St Colum’s), Bríd O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey), Orlagh Farmer (Midleton); Eimear Scally (Éire Óg), Doireann O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey), Orla Finn (Kinsale).