Cork GAA’s longest-serving selector will pull the strings for the Division 1 National League champions tomorrow in Mallow (2pm).
Donoughmore’s Frankie Honohan has been involved with the Cork senior ladies football team since 2003, and tomorrow he’ll be in the hotseat in the absence of new head coach Ephie Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald, who was appointed as Eamonn Ryan’s successor by the Cork County Board on Monday night, won’t be in Mallow for the league opener against Mayo.
Instead, the former Clare men’s selector will be on the line for the Waterford senior footballers in Aughrim, where Tom McGlinchey’s side will be taking on Wicklow in their Division 4 NFL clash.
Fitzgerald will follow through on his commitment to the Déise for the coming weeks, and in his absence, Honohan will call the shots against Frank Browne’s Mayo.
On Wednesday night, Fitzgerald met 27 members of his new team at Whitechurch GAA Grounds as they continued their preparations under Honohan, fellow selector Pat O’Leary, and manager Bridget O’Brien.
Since Ryan’s departure in late December, Honohan, O’Leary, and O’Brien have kept the show on the road for the players, who have just a handful of training sessions under their belts ahead of tomorrow’s clash.
It’s not yet known what way the team will line out given that players have yet to announce their commitments for the 2016 season. However, there will be one notable absence as All-Star wing-back Geraldine O’Flynn recovers from a knee injury sustained in last September’s All-Ireland final against Dublin.
It’s been nine years since Mayo defeated Cork — the last time in the 2007 league semi-final in Banagher— but they’ll be confident of a first win over the Rebels in nearly a decade given that coach Browne has remained at the helm.
Browne has brought a steadiness to a Mayo set-up that in recent years had its fair share of managerial upheaval. But for once Mayo are one of the more settled sides commencing the 2016 campaign.
Alongside Dublin and Kerry, Mayo haven’t undergone any managerial changes over the winter months, while Cork, Armagh, Monaghan, Galway, and Tyrone have all seen a new year swept in by a new broom.
Apart from Mayo and Cork squaring up tomorrow, the match-up between Alan O’Neill’s Kerry and Gregory McGonigle’s Dublin will be most interesting, with the pair fancied to reach the league final in early May.
Interestingly Dublin have never won the Division 1 title in the 37-year history of the competition, while Kerry last won the title 25 years ago in 1991.
McGonigle’s side were recently bolstered by news that all their home league games will be held in Parnell Park this spring. Tomorrow sees the Kingdom venture into their fortress at 2pm. Elsewhere, Tyrone face 2015 finalists Galway in Killyclogher, while 2015 Division 2 champions Armagh take on Monaghan in Emyvale, with former Meath boss Paula Cunningham at the helm for the 2012 champions Monaghan.
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