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11-time All-Ireland winners 'thrilled' to keep double-headers despite losing Páirc Uí Chaoimh appearance

The Cork ladies will play their league before the men’s footballers at Páirc Uí Rinn due to development work at the main county grounds.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

CORK LADIES SELECTOR James Masters says the team is “thrilled” to keep their double-header fixtures with their male counterparts, despite missing out on an appearance at Páirc Uí Chaoimh during the league.

It was announced on Wednesday that the redevelopment of Cork’s main county grounds will cost an estimated €95.8m, which will have a knock-on effect on the fixtures that were scheduled for that venue.

All of Cork’s remaining Allianz league ties, including the double-headers with the 11-time All-Ireland ladies champions, will now take place in Páirc Uí Rinn.

It’s a disappointing development for Ephie Fitzgerald’s charges, who were due to play two Division 1 games in the famous stadium, in what would their first competitive appearance there.

The Cork team stand during the trophy presentation The Cork ladies team lining out before last year's All-Ireland final against Dublin. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

But Masters insists that the panel is grateful that those double-headers with the Cork men’s team are still going ahead in Páirc Uí Rinn.

They were just thrilled it was still going ahead as a double-header,” he tells The42. “Especially going forward, that’s massive for us.

“We’re just grateful really. It’s great for Ladies football.

“We kind of knew there was going to be a bit of trouble with the [Páirc Uí Chaoimh] pitch.

“It’s an awful lot tighter down in Páirc Uí Rinn as regards dressing rooms and stuff so we were initially worried that the double-header wouldn’t go ahead and that we’d have to play in some other pitch.”

Masters continued by thanking the Cork county board for their support and commitment to those double-header arrangements.

The former Cork forward has been vocal about the issue of double-headers in the past and expressed his frustration last year.

Ahead of the respective men’s and ladies Munster finals between Cork and Kerry, Masters said it would be  “missed opportunity” not to arrange a double-header of the provincial deciders.

He says the Cork county board officials have since taken his views on board, which he believes will lead to more competitive games for the Rebel ladies in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The stadium is scheduled for another double-header in June of this year, when the Cork ladies face Kerry in the Munster final with the men taking on Limerick or Tipperary at the same venue afterwards.

It remains to be seen if those games can still be staged in Páirc Uí Chaoimh as the extensive and costly revamp work begins.

A general view of Pairc Ui Chaoimh Páirc Uí Chaoimh has always been just out of reach for the Cork ladies. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It’s going to take time so I don’t know if it’s going to take two months or five months, or a year,” says an optimistic Masters.

“The one thing I will say is that we have access to the astro turf in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Wednesday nights.

“It’s been a life saver for us and it’s the first year that we’ve been able to have extremely good facilities. It’s not the main pitch, but to be fair, we were also given access to Páirc Uí Chaoimh last year before the All-Ireland final by the county board.

“It is unfortunate, but it would be worse if there wasn’t any talk of us playing in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. It’s the pitch that’s dictating it really.

I would be an awful lot more disappointed if it was 2019 and there was no talk of the Cork ladies playing in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“And Páirc Uí Rinn is a beautiful pitch. I don’t know if a whole lot of the Cork ladies have played there either so it’s going to be a new thing for them.”

 ”In the last year, the likes of Tracey Kennedy and Kevin O’Donovan have been very good to us. This wouldn’t have been heard of years ago. 

The girls want to play in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, and that will happen.”

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