Tomorrow it will be burning as strong as ever as Alan O’Neill’s Kerry look to destroy Cork’s plans of reaching an 11th Division 1 National League final in 12 years (Drumcollogher/Broadford, throw-in 2pm).
Stack was there in 2005 when Eamonn Ryan oversaw the county’s first title, but predicting this year’s finalists is near impossible now. Dublin face Galway in the second semi-final in Mullingar and that too could go either way.
“It’s been coming a while, but the gap between the top four teams is closing at a rapid rate,” says the Rockchapel woman.
“The fact that the league is getting so competitive is testament to the work counties are putting in. The fact that you can’t call it is brilliant, in my eyes.
“Our game is going to be another close one, and I wouldn’t even try to call the Dublin and Galway.”
The Dubs secured their semi-final berth after a 16-point win over the Rebels a fortnight ago, but despite that result, Stack believes Cork are in a good place.
“We’re definitely in a stronger position than we were 12 months ago. “Last year we were struggling to make the fourth spot and it wasn’t until the last group game that we took it on a notch. “This year has gone predominantly well for us, bar the loss to Monaghan and the Dublin game.”
She admitted: “Losing to Dublin knocked us for six. No one wants to be beaten that heavily, but it was a massive wake up call for every one. Dublin were hungrier than us and if you don’t go into a match with fierce hunger to win it, you’re in trouble.
“We’ve knuckled down to try and rectify things because if we go in Sunday with anything at all wanting against Kerry, we’ll be shown up, big time,” said the All-Star defender.
In February, Cork managed to dispatch Kerry in the round-robin series by a point in Cloughduv courtesy of an injury-time score from wing-back Geraldine O’Flynn.
Defensively there has been a bit of manoeuvring with the absence of full-back Angela Walsh and the late return of corner-back Deirdre O’Reilly to the camp, but Stack is confident the newer recruits are learning on the job.
“The unit hadn’t changed very much until the last two years and we’ve had to reinvent ourselves, and people have had to change positions, but that’s fine because people are committed to doing that for the good of the team.
“We can’t take anything for granted and Kerry look to be responding well to new management and they look reinvigorated.
“Any of their six forwards are capable of taking on ball and creating options, and that coupled with a defence that likes to drive out every chance they get; that’s a huge threat and a challenge.”
In the Division 2 semi-finals, Armagh take on Cavan, and Donegal face Westmeath, while in Division 3, Waterford face Roscommon and Leitrim take on Sligo.
M O’Brien, M Ambrose, R Phelan, B Stack, V Foley, R O’Sullivan, G O’Flynn, R Buckley, B Corkery, C O’Sullivan, A Hutchings, A Walsh, D O’Sullivan, V Mulcahy, O Finn.
E Murphy, G Crowley, A Desmond, A Leonard, C Murphy, C Lynch, C Kelly, M Quirke, Be Breen, S Houlihan, L Galvin, D Hallisey, P Dennehy, L Ní Muicheartaigh, A Brosnan.
C Trant, O Carey, S Furlong, F Hudson, S Goldrick, S Finnegan, N Collins, N McEvoy, S McCaffrey, A Connolly, K Flood, N Healy, H Noonan, L Davey, C Rowe.
J Connolly, S Gormelly, E Flaherty, Á Seoighe, N Connolly, N Ward, S Burke, A Clarke, G Conneally, B Hannon, P Gleeson, L Ward, L Joyce, T Leonard, E Concannon.