Roisín O’Sullivan finally leaps onto centre stage

TESCO Ladies NFL Division 1 final
Cork v Galway
Today: Parnell Park, 3.45pm

After eight years slogging it out on the training field, Roisín O’Sullivan will be given her first start for Cork in a National League final today.

The captain of last year’s senior All-Ireland club finalists Mourneabbey, O’Sullivan’s consistent form has justified a number 6 jersey as Eamonn Ryan’s side bid to win their ninth Division 1 NFL title in 12 years.

“The reason why I’ve kept going? I just love training with the team. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I gave it all up,” she said.

The older sister of Ciara and Doireann, O’Sullivan should have captained the Rebels this year, but instead opted to stay out of the limelight and hand the honour to her All Star winning sister Ciara.

“Ciara’s been with Cork as many years as I have, but she’s played more consistently, so it was only right that she be given the chance to be captain.”

This afternoon in Parnell Park, it will be the first time the 25-year-old KPMG employee will start alongside her siblings in a national decider, but it’s been a long road to get there.

In 2009 she tore her knee cruciate when contesting a ball with former captain Juliet Murphy in a training drill. She would then have to undergo a second operation in 2010 to repair a subsequent knee ailment.

“I’ll never forget it. I can remember exactly where I was on the pitch, but the funny thing was, when I went home it felt fine. The next morning it was out like a balloon but I let the swelling go down and went back training.

“When I got the MRI then and it said it was my cruciate, it caught me by surprise. After the second operation, I headed off on a J1 Visa to the United States and it was the best thing I did. Mentally it’s very hard to keep it going. There’s so much rehab work involved. I think the time away did me good, because it was refreshing to come back. I don’t think you’ll ever be the same after doing a cruciate, but I’m glad to be able to play a part again.”

O’Sullivan was key at centre-back in Mourneabbey’s first senior county title win last October, and Cork boss Eamonn Ryan felt it was the right position to try her this spring, and she’s delivered.

It hasn’t been easy filling the boots of the likes of All Star winners Rena Buckley, Bríd Stack and Deirdre O’Reilly who’ve all served there before her, but O’Sullivan is holding her own.

“When we lost the last round-robin game to Dublin badly, it was embarrassing. We came together as a group and spoke about it, and it was the kick we needed.

“We’d already qualified for the semi-final, but we knew we had so much more to give.

“Against Kerry in the semi-final things came together a lot more for us.

“With Clare pulling out of the Munster Senior Championship now, it’ll be eight weeks until the provincial final, so it was key for us to get as far in the league as possible.

“We’re under no illusions as to how much work we have to do, and I’m sure we’ll learn a thing or two against Galway.”

It will be Cork’s second bid for three in-a-row, in this their 11th league final appearance in 12 years under Ryan, while Kevin Reidy’s Galway will be aiming to win their first Division 1 crown.

CORK: M O’Brien; M Ambrose, R Phelan, B Stack; V Foley, R O’Sullivan, G O’Flynn; R Buckley, B Corkery; C O’Sullivan (C), A Hutchings, A Walsh; D O’Sullivan, V Mulcahy, O Finn.


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