Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald has admitted that dual star Briege Corkery may have played her last game for the county’s senior footballers – while Vera Foley is another who won’t feature for the remainder of the 2017 campaign.
Corkery, holder of 11 All-Ireland medals from her inter-county football career, has yet to commit to the squad for the summer.
And speaking over the weekend, Fitzgerald admitted that a return for the 30-year-old is “unlikely.”
However, Fitzgerald has strongly rejected claims that his all-conquering side is in terminal decline following last Saturday’s Munster Championship defeat to Kerry.
Cork’s long unbeaten run of contesting provincial finals, unbroken from 2004-2016, was smashed by Kerry at Fitzgerald Stadium, as the Kingdom progressed to a July 8 decider with Waterford.
Fitzgerald’s charges lost both of their round-robin fixtures in the Munster series, also suffering defeat to surprise packets Waterford. But he remains confident that Cork will regroup and launch a strong defence of their All-Ireland title through the back door.
He revealed that the O’Sullivan sisters, Ciara and Doireann, will return next week to bolster Cork’s charge. Captain Ciara has been away travelling while Doireann is recovering from keyhole surgery on a knee injury.
But when asked specifically about Corkery on Red FM, Fitzgerald replied: “Yeah, it’s unlikely at this stage now.
“Rena (Buckley) won’t be involved this year, she’s committed to the camogie and Vera Foley hasn’t made herself available, and Deirdre O’Reilly has retired.”
On Saturday, a transitional Cork came from six points down against Kerry to lead by three, before being caught with late goals from Sarah Houlihan and Anna Galvin.
But speaking after the game, Fitzgerald said: “While we lost the match and we’re disappointed, there are a lot of positives for us going forward.
“I said to the girls that I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts. To lose so many players, people will look now and say Cork are gone and Cork are this and Cork are that but we’re not really, we’re as competitive as ever.
“It’s just that sometimes in these close games, Cork have been on the right side of them a lot and maybe we need to learn that bit of experience in closing the game down, when we were three points up.
“We just fell a little bit short. We were disappointed with our display against Waterford but in terms of our intensity in the second half (against Kerry), we showed what we’re about and I think we’ll improve as the year goes on.”
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