Skipper O’Connor frustrated as ladies final clashes with Cork showpiece

CORK captain Mary O’Connor has expressed her disappointment at the clash between the All-Ireland ladies football final and the Cork senior football decider on Sunday.

The Rebels bid for a fifth successive title when they face Dublin in Croke Park but St Finbarr’s play Clonakilty in the Cork SFC showpiece at Páirc Uí Chaoimh the same afternoon.

A similar scenario arose two weekends ago when Cork faced Kilkenny in the camogie decider and three members of the Munster side had brothers playing in club fixtures back home the same day.

“As a player it is very, very disappointing,” said O’Connor.

“Two weeks ago, with the camogie, it was similar. You talk about the family of Gaelic games and supporting one another.

“The GAA could look at themselves and say if Cork get to a ladies football final or camogie final that those two Sundays in September be kept free.

“They could play the games on the Saturday but it’s very disappointing. There’s not much more I can say about it as a player. You want as many people to be able to come to games as possible. You’ve got girls’ brothers playing in the games and the community is going to be divided. They all can’t give the support to one because it’s very, very difficult.”

Fermanagh, who face Clare in the intermediate final on Sunday, have decided to move their county SFC final between Derrygonnelly and Roslea to 7.45pm on Saturday night

Antrim too, who will be represented in the junior decider where they will face Limerick, have fixed their men’s senior football decider for the same time on Saturday evening.

“That’s a positive sign,” said O’Connor. “In Cork, it’s very hard to change attitudes down there. It’s difficult and I’m sure the greater GAA community in Cork, the ordinary club guy, would love to be able to support the ladies football but if the club is playing the club is playing and they have to go support them.”

Dublin are aiming to capture their first senior title, having lost the deciders in 2003 and 2004, and a major drive is underway in the city to rally support this week.

“They expected their men to be in the final this year. The women have done it for them and I’m sure they’re going to be well supported.

“That support does add that extra dimension. If you’re down a point or up a point it might drive you on so you take that into account as well.”

Pat Quill, president of the Ladies Football Association, admitted yesterday that the clash of interests in Cork was far from ideal.

“It’s a pity. We would prefer if it hadn’t been on, if it had been played on the Saturday, but for reasons within the county itself they couldn’t do it. In fairness to the Cork county board they have facilitated us in the past. An All-Ireland is a special occasion and a lot of people will go to the Cork county final who would love to be here to support the girls in Croke Park.”

Quill is still expecting a crowd of around 20,000 for the triple header. 22,000 people attended last year.

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