Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald expects to learn next week about the availability of 11-time All-Ireland winners Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley for the summer’s championship campaign, writes Jackie Cahill.
Fitzgerald hasn’t placed any pressure on the midfielders to commit thus far but indicated that he will have to pick a championship panel after next Sunday’s Lidl National League Division 1 final against Donegal at Parnell Park.
Buckley is Cork’s senior camogie team captain and has focused solely on the small ball code to date in 2017, while Corkery opted for an extended break and has yet to reveal her intentions.
Fitzgerald said yesterday: “After the League, we’ll sit and we’ll pick a panel.
“We’ll definitely have a decision come next week.”
Buckley and Corkery will not feature for Cork as they aim for a fifth successive League crown at the weekend.
But the Rebelettes will be without Ciara O’Sullivan, captain of the 2015 and 2016 All-Ireland winning teams.
O’Sullivan and sister Roisín are travelling and may also miss the first round of the Munster championship in early June.
Ciara O’Sullivan scored two points against Dublin in the League semi-final but her absence is offset by the return to fitness of another sibling, Doireann.
Fitzgerald confirmed: “Ciara and Roisín, they’re the two missing. They’ve gone travelling for a bit. That was prearranged so we knew that was coming.
“But Doireann is back fit now so hopefully one sister will compensate for the loss of the other one.
“But obviously, Ciara is a big loss to us, and Roisín. They’ve been going well. “But that’s it, we have a good panel and we used it this year so we’ve no complaints really.”
Fitzgerald also admitted that he’s working on a plan to curb the threat of Donegal’s twin terrors Geraldine McLaughlin and Yvonne McMonagle.
When Donegal beat Cork in Mallow last month, in the group stages of the competition, the forward pair combined for 3-10.
McLaughlin and McMonagle have been in scintillating recent form and in Donegal’s semi-final victory over Galway, they scored 5-8 between them.
Fitzgerald pointed out that Cork, who had already secured semi-final qualification, made a host of changes for their last meeting with Donegal but he acknowledged the potential danger posed by the ace forwards.
Fitzgerald noted: “Super players, obviously they did fair damage to us in Cork. “That’s the management’s job, to get that right and we’ve looked at that and trained accordingly.
“With players of that calibre, you can certainly try and minimise the effect they have but they’re very good players, similar to what we have with Eimear (Scally) and them up the other end.
“You’re trying to do the best you can but you’re only going to limit them so much.
“Hopefully we’ll give a better account of ourselves than we did the last time but it’s a big challenge for the girls.
“Marie (Ambrose) and Roisin Phelan and these girls have two All-Irelands under their belts, they’re experienced now at this stage, and they’re young.”
Cork, despite finding themselves in something of a transitional phase, have still managed to quality for a tenth successive League decider.
They got past old foes Dublin at Nowlan Park, despite Fitzgerald’s fears that they might not be ready for the challenge.
He explained: “The girls had been on holidays. We had prearranged a holiday for the girls a week prior to the Dublin match.
“So, we were a bit worried without training and there were a few drinks taken, that we wouldn’t be at the pitch of it.
“I suppose we struggled a little bit early on but I thought the character and the resilience shown, and as well as that, some of the football played was excellent so we’re delighted with that.
“It was a very tough encounter. That scoreline (1-16 to 0-13) probably flattered us a bit in the finish of it.”