Doireann O’Sullivan’s three superb points in last September’s TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football final went a long way towards securing a sixth successive title for Cork.

However, the Mourneabbey player has revealed she was “touch and go” before the Dublin clash and would have been under real pressure to make it had the showpiece been fixed for a week earlier.

UCC student O’Sullivan, 22, was nursing a bulging disc in her back and a related nerve issue was missed in an initial MRI scan. O’Sullivan struggled with the most basic of day-to-day tasks; getting into her car or bending down to tie her shoelaces.

Cork’s vigilant team physio, Laura Harrington was certain of an underlying issue and referred O’Sullivan to Dr Éanna Falvey at Santry’s Sports Surgery Clinic who detected the nerve problem.

Because of injury, O’Sullivan had missed all of Cork’s big games of the 2016 season, before featuring in the All-Ireland semi-final and final. Against Monaghan in the last-four clash, O’Sullivan went until the 53rd minute before making way for Eimear Scally.

She recalls: “My back was killing me. At half-time, I tried to keep moving, because when you stop, it stiffens up completely. I played the final and did okay, which was nice. I had been training as hard as the girls all year, but if it was a week earlier, I don’t know if I’d have played.

“I had cartilage done the year before [2015] and, after colleges football, that was acting up again. That’s why I missed the League but I was coming good again and hurt my back. It was a slow thing. If it’s a hamstring, for example, you’d be in the gym and doing different things, but the back is different, more serious. It was touch and go whether I’d play the final. I went to Éanna, Laura referred me to him, and he was very accommodating.”

O’Sullivan, on a careful path aimed at avoiding a recurrence of her back injury, didn’t play any Lidl National League football this year until the recent semi-final victory over Dublin, when she appeared as a second-half sub. But tomorrow at Parnell Park, she’ll captain Cork in the absence of sister Ciara, who’s travelling in South America. Doireann will lead the five-in-a-row chasing Rebels into battle against Donegal.

“It’s a massive honour, but Ciara will be back in a couple of weeks and she can take over. I’ve never captained the team before. For the past three seasons, it’s been Ciara and, the year before [2014] it was Briege [Corkery], but there are a lot of girls who have been there a lot longer than me, who will help me out on the day.”

CORK:

M O’Brien (Clonakilty); M Ambrose (St. Val’s), R Phelan (Aghada), E Spillane (Bantry Blues); M Duggan (Doheny’s), B Stack (St. Mary’s), S Kelly (Araglen Desmonds Buí), N Cotter (Beara), J O’Shea (Inch Rovers); L Coppinger (St. Colum’s), B O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey), O Farmer (Midleton); E Scally (Éire Óg), D O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey), O Finn (Kinsale). DONEGAL: A McColgan (Malin); T Doherty (Carndonagh), E Gallagher (Termon), N McLaughlin (Termon); T McClafferty (Termon), C Hegarty (Moville), K Keeney (Four Masters); K Herron (Glenfin), K Guthrie (Glenfin); G Houston (Glenfin), N Hegarty (Moville), S McGruddy (Termon); R Friel (Termon), G McLaughlin (Termon), Y McMonagle (Glenfin).


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