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Twomey: It's great Orla Cronin is back, but we won’t rush her too fast

April 15th, 2023 5:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

Orla Cronin won an All-Star award for her heroics in 2020.

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DELIGHTED to have Orla Cronin back in action for Cork, manager Matthew Twomey insists they won’t risk too much too soon from the Enniskeane star.

Cronin came off the bench in Cork’s recent Very Camogie League Division 1A clash against Galway to make her first appearance of the season. 

She endured an injury-riddled 2022 campaign, missing the entire league and playing in only three championship games before deciding to step back from the panel. So while Twomey is thrilled to have the 2022 All-Star back, he won’t rush her comeback either. 

‘Orla Cronin, on her day, is probably one of the best players in the country,’ Twomey stated.

‘When you watch her playing, she just glides around the pitch. Orla was a massive loss to us last year. She is still working her way back. While Orla is available for selection, she is not fully there, fitness-wise, just yet.

‘The difference in her over the last couple of weeks has been unbelievable. Just having Orla around the panel, out training with us, is fantastic. We want to make the most of that.

‘At the same time we need to mind Orla and make sure we don’t rush her back too fast. Right now, it is absolutely brilliant having Orla back.’

 

Whether Cronin features or not in Sunday’s Division 1A final against Galway at Croke Park remains to be seen, but her return strengthens a Cork side that is also missing Ashling Thompson and Katrina Mackey. Sunday is also a chance for Cork to pick up some silverware and cap an encouraging league that saw the Rebels win four games before losing their final group match (1-11 to 1-10) to this weekend’s opponents, Galway. In Cork’s defence they were already through to the league final before the game with the Tribeswomen. Cork won’t need reminding that Galway also won the 2022 league final between the two counties as well.

‘The players were disappointed to lose that league game last month and in the manner they lost it,’ Twomey said.

‘They have trained extremely well since. Galway are a quality side and very experienced. After Tipperary lost on the Saturday, they needed to come to Páirc Uí Chaoimh and win. To be fair to them, they got it.

‘We are looking to atone for that loss but it is a league final (too). When you are there, you want to put in a performance as much for yourself. We keep saying it will take a good team to beat us if we put in a good performance. Anything less and we will be in trouble.’

Galway's Dervla Higgins and Cork captain Amy O’Connor pictured ahead of Sunday’s Very Camogie League Division 1A final at Croke Park. (Photo: INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

 

That solitary league defeat to Galway aside, Twomey is pleased with the level of consistency delivered by his panel so far this season. Difficult challenges have been overcome including a gutsy win in a physical contest away to Tipperary and terrific scoring (23 points) at Kilkenny. Make no mistake, Cork are in decent shape and there is much to be positive about irrespective of Sunday’s outcome.

‘We have changed an awful lot of things from last year,’ Twomey said.

‘We have had to adapt but got a couple of big wins at the start (of the league). We are most happy with our players' character. It is very easy when playing a new system to get side-tracked if things go against you or teams outwit you. My management and I are very happy with the way the players are sticking to the game plan and our new system. That side of things is what you want to get out of the league. We feel that we have a very strong panel this year even though we are currently down a good few players due to injury.

‘The players that have come in have made a name for themselves. It is going to be very hard to dislodge those players from the starting team. That is exactly what any manager wants, people on the panel fighting for a starting place. Cork has that this year.’

Cork manager Matthew Twomey.

 

So there is plenty at stake when two teams who know one another well clash at Croke Park on Sunday. Twomey wants to see a positive response from a strengthened panel desperate to end a run of consecutive All-Ireland final losses later this summer.

‘Everyone knows that you now need more than 20 players to win an All-Ireland,’ he said.

‘We drafted in a couple of new players from our intermediate panel because we were down on numbers. Those players have increased competition.

‘We are hoping that we get things right. There is still a lot of work to be done which is great. Cork is getting an opportunity to go to Croke Park and test players out. Sunday is a great opportunity for those players to shine and do what they have been doing week in and week out on the training pitch.’

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