Ephie Fitzgerald expects Cork to prove difficult to beat in home All-Ireland quarter-final

Home advantage is a definite help to Cork tomorrow but Fitzgerald insisted that the All-Ireland quarter-final should have been fixed for a neutral venue
Ephie Fitzgerald expects Cork to prove difficult to beat in home All-Ireland quarter-final

Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald talking to players after beating Meath at St Brendan's Park in Birr earlier this month. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Cork ladies football manager Ephie Fitzgerald believes his team will be difficult to beat in tomorrow’s All-Ireland quarter-final so long as they perform.

Cork welcome Waterford to Páirc Uí Chaoimh (3.30pm throw-in), with the hosts bidding to secure an 11th consecutive All-Ireland semi-final appearance.

“If we are right mentally, we will be difficult to beat. Once we give a performance, I think we will be difficult to beat, particularly at home,” said Fitzgerald.

Cork were three-point winners when the two counties clashed in the National League at Dungarvan’s Fraher Field in early June.

“We were coasting with 10 minutes to go in that game and then we got two yellow cards, retreated, and took our foot off the gas. We ended up hanging on. Waterford never give up, that’s for sure.

“They are probably the lightest team out there in terms of their physique, but they are very fit and they always have excellent footballers. The Páirc will suit them as they are very pacey.” 

Cork are unbeaten in the All-Ireland Championship thus far, overcoming Meath and Tipperary in the group stages. On top of their winning form, one of the real pluses of Cork’s group campaign was the 15 minutes of game-time Doireann O’Sullivan saw last time out against Tipp. It was the first bit of competitive action O’Sullivan has seen in a red shirt this year after coming back from a knee problem.

The five-time All-Ireland winner is again named among the subs for tomorrow’s fixture.

“It is fantastic to see her back, she is a fantastic player and a real leader within the group. She has been so unlucky with injuries to her knees and back. It is just trying to manage her injuries and keep her fit for the games.

“The big thing for us is we have strengthened the panel a lot and we have girls coming on now that are every bit as good as those that are starting, which is a help when the game starts to open up a bit in the second half.

“When you look at Doireann O'Sullivan coming on and the likes of Libby Coppinger and the Kielys, it is heartening that you have that quality to bring on.” 

Home advantage is a definite help to Cork tomorrow, which came about as a result of Cork winning a coin toss to determine whether the game be played in Cork or Waterford, but the manager insisted that the All-Ireland quarter-final should have been fixed for a neutral venue.

“Happy to win the toss because we haven't won one of them in a long time, but I don't agree with the toss in the first instance. These should be played at neutral venues and I have been very vocal about that over the years.

“The fact that we have it and it is down in the Páirc, the girls are looking forward to that as they love playing there. Thanks to the county board for making it available to us, the relationship there is very, very good.” 

CORK: M O’Brien (capt.); M Ambrose, R Phelan, E Meaney; E O’Shea, S Kelly, M Duggan; A Hutchings, H Looney; O Farmer, C O’Sullivan, Á O’Sullivan; S O’Leary, K Quirke, E Scally.

WATERFORD: R Landers; M Dunford, L Mulcahy, R Casey; R Tobin, Karen McGrath, A Mullaney; C Fennell, M Wall (capt.); S Dunphy, E Murray, Kate McGrath; E Fennell, K Murray, A Wall.

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