Ephie Fitzgerald staying put as Cork ladies football manager

Fitzgerald succeeded the late Éamonn Ryan as Cork manager in 2016
Ephie Fitzgerald staying put as Cork ladies football manager

Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald is staying on for a sixth season. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Ephie Fitzgerald has confirmed he is staying on for a sixth season as Cork ladies football manager.

Fitzgerald succeeded the late Éamonn Ryan as Cork manager in 2016 and has since guided the county to three All-Ireland final appearances in five years (2016, ‘18, and ‘20), winning the Brendan Martin Cup in his first year at the helm.

Cork fell to Dublin in last month’s All-Ireland decider, the margin of defeat - five points - the same as it was when the two counties met in the 2018 final.

Fitzgerald is working with a relatively young Cork group - the average age of his All-Ireland final starting team was 25 - and so no retirements are envisaged ahead of the 2021 season, certainly not among those who saw game-time during the run to the 2020 decider.

The 2021 National Ladies Football League is scheduled to throw-in on the weekend of February 27/28, but it is widely accepted that the competition, no more than the men’s League, will be pushed back into March.

The LGFA has restructured its League for the forthcoming season, with each county playing three round-robin games before the knockout stages commence.

All-Ireland champions Dublin will again be managed by Mick Bohan after the four-time All-Ireland-winning manager was recently confirmed for a fifth season in charge.

Galway and Mayo are currently on the hunt for new managers after the departures of Tim Rabbitt and Peter Leahy respectively. The Mayo appointment is expected to bring the Carnacon players back into the county set-up. No player from the club has lined out for Mayo since the player exodus midway through the 2018 All-Ireland championship when a dozen players cited “player welfare issues” as their reason for leaving the county panel, which was disputed by management.

2016 All-Star Fiona McHale, one of the aforementioned dozen, has said she is willing to return to the Mayo panel if the new management require her services.

“You only get a certain amount of time to play inter-county football. You’ve only a certain amount of years and then they’re gone. If [the new management] saw me being able to add something to the squad, and if they saw me as part of their plans, I’d be definitely willing to have a conversation or think about it for sure,” she told Midwest Radio.

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