Eleven-time senior All-Ireland winner Deirdre O’Reilly has confirmed she has retired from intercounty football after a hugely-impressive 15-year career.
“It’s official alright right. All done,” O’Reilly said with a smile, following revelations on Cork’s Red FM on Saturday evening by Cork coach Ephie Fitzgerald that O’Reilly would not feature in 2017.
One of the game’s toughest defenders — highlighted by the fact that she has won five ladies football All-Stars — O’Reilly made her senior debut aged just 15.
During a Munster Senior Championship game against Waterford in Fraher Field, O’Reilly, who was still only playing U16 and minor for Cork at the time, was asked down from the stand to tog out.
O’Reilly’s older sister, Sinead, had been playing, and the duo would go on to win three senior All-Ireland medals together with Cork under coach Eamonn Ryan and manager Mary Collins.
O’Reilly came on as a substitute in her first senior All-Ireland final win in 2005 against Galway, and in fact won her second playing centre-forward in 2006 against Armagh.
Known for her incredible strength, O’Reilly moved to the rearguard but on numerous occasions took the game by the scruff of the neck, rushing forward from defence to sling over vital points.
O’Reilly also holds two All-Ireland club football medals, having won the junior and intermediate club All-Ireland titles in 1999 and 2000 respectively with Rockchapel, alongside the likes of Brid Stack and Norita Kelly.
She has also won three senior camogie All-Ireland club titles with Milford in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
Meanwhile, ace forward Tracey Leonard made a welcome late return from cruciate knee ligament damage as Galway joined holders Cork at the head of affairs in Division 1 of the Lidl Ladies National Football League.
Two Róisín Leonard goals, and another from Ailbhe Davoren, helped the Tribeswomen to see off Kerry by 3-6 to 1-10 yesterday afternoon.
Dublin could have made it a three-way tie at the top but the Leinster champions suffered a surprise 3-5 to 3-12 defeat against Armagh in Abbottstown.
Leonard’s first goal was the first decisive piece of action in Corofin and that strike helped the hosts to lead by 1-4 to 0-5 at half-time.
But Kerry took control early in the second half and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh’s 34th-minute goal opened up a 1-7 to 1-4 lead for the Kingdom.
But Galway regained the initiative when Leonard and Davoren netted quickfire goals, while Kerry lost Denise Hallissey to the sin-bin.
Elsewhere, the scheduled Donegal-Mayo game was postponed, due to a bereavement in the Donegal camp.
On Saturday, Cork came from behind to secure a valuable 2-14 to 1-12 victory against hosts Monaghan in Clones, with Rachel McKenna’s sin-binning for Monaghan proving a huge turning point.
In Division 2 Cavan beat Waterford by just a single point, 2-7 to 0-12, as Westmeath saw off Laois by two points, 0-14 to 1-9.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved