James Masters: Attitude of Cork ladies is 'frightening'

James Masters: Attitude of Cork ladies is 'frightening'

By Mary White

James Masters is relishing his new role as selector with the Cork senior ladies footballers.

The former Cork forward isn't the only intercounty men's star however who's switched to coaching ladies football in 2016, with Ronan Clarke of Armagh taking charge of the Orchard County.

James Masters in action for Cork in 2008.
James Masters in action for Cork in 2008.

For Masters, coaching at this level is a new experience, and one he wasn't expecting. A phone call to congratulate his former Nemo Rangers' coach, Ephie Fitzgerald, on succeeding Eamonn Ryan as boss, saw the Bandon-based garda land himself a role with the reigning All-Ireland and league champions.

It took him a week to contemplate Fitzgerald's proposal, but his admiration for Cork's humility meant it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

"Their attitude is frightening," says Masters.

"I love it, and I'm a bit obsessed at the moment if I'm honest. Almost every night I'm watching whatever DVDs I can of their games over the last few years. They're a great bunch and their record speaks for itself, so I'm not going to come in and change anything, just add and help in anyway I can.

"They manage themselves so well as a group. I've known a few of the older girls for some years, and there was never any airs and graces about them. I think that's why they've won so much."

Sunday's win against Tyrone was a first for Cork under Fitzgerald, who fell to table-toppers Mayo in the opening round a fortnight ago, and Munster champions Kerry last weekend. But, for Masters, it's all a learning curve.

"It was great to get the win. It's been good too to come in alongside the likes of Frankie (Honohan), Pat (O'Leary) and Con (O'Sullivan), who've so much experience and know the girls well. But, it's a learning curve for me personally and I'm sure I'll make plenty of mistakes, but I'm totally enjoying it.

"It's early days, but the one thing I know is that Ephie is brilliant at football coaching as regards his drills, and I'll help him that regard. We'll sit down and plan out the season in the coming days, and hopefully come the summer we'll be just as impressive as every other year."

Fitzgerald admitted Sunday's win 'takes the pressure off', with Cork vying to retain their title, but after just a month in the job, the former Clare senior football coach is loving his new role.

"I'm absolutely delighted with them and their attitude is fantastic.

Cork Ladies enjoyed phenomenal success under previous manager Eamonn Ryan.
Cork Ladies enjoyed phenomenal success under previous manager Eamonn Ryan.

"What amazes me about them is their humility in terms of what they've won. They're so humble and they listen to everything. And that's the one thing I've noticed, their focus is absolutely incredible.

"We haven't changed much, but we've introduced a bit of strength and conditioning with Michael Carroll of UCC, and he's working with us on the fitness side of things as we're a little behind in that regard."

Derek O'Gorman has also come in as a goalkeeping coach, replacing Kieran Dwyer, who operated for a number of years under Eamonn Ryan.

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