Deirdre O'Reilly, Briege Corkery, Geraldine O'Flynn, Valerie Mulcahy, Bríd Stack and Rena Buckley of Cork. Donall Farmer/INPHO
Key Players

Future still uncertain for 4 All-Ireland winners with Cork ladies footballers

Briege Corkery, Rena Buckley, Bríd Stack and Deirdre O’Reilly are all on a break from the panel.

FOUR KEY MEMBERS of the Cork Ladies senior football team, have yet to return to the panel for the 2017 season.

The Lidl Division 1 football league has already started, but multi-All-Ireland winning campaigners Briege Corkery, Rena Buckley, Bríd Stack and Deirdre O’Reilly, remain on an extended break.

The reigning All-Ireland champions suffered a Round 2 defeat to Armagh yesterday and speaking after the tie, manager Ephie Fitzgerald revealed that those four players are still deciding on their inter-county future for this year.

“I don’t know to be honest about it. We’ll have that discussion in the next few weeks but they’re taking a bit of time off, they’re reflecting and we’ll take it from there.

“I think this is a good opportunity for us, this is a big learning experience for a lot of our younger girls. We’ll take the positives out of it as well.

“We lost by three points, we battled gamely, things didn’t go our way but I’m sure we’ll learn from it and pick ourselves up for the Dublin game in two weeks.”

LadiesFootballTV / YouTube

Cork have won 11 of the last 12 ladies All-Ireland senior football finals, claiming their sixth consecutive crown last September. Buckley, Stack, Corkery and O’Reilly have featured prominently in each of those triumphs.

Corkery and Buckley, who are dual players with Cork, have both claimed 17 All-Ireland medals each across both codes.

Fitzgerald admitted that his side were lacking the qualities that the four players bring to Cork’s game, but stressed that their absence gives less experienced panel members a chance to audition for a starting place in the team.

“It’s a factor in terms of their experience and their football brain. But last week, we put up a very good performance (against Kerry). I think with younger girls as well, you’ve ups and downs, you have peaks and troughs. It’s just (about) trying to strike a balance.”

“We knew coming up here that Armagh would be smarting after their defeat last week to Donegal, so we knew we were in for a tough game.

“Obviously that’s what it proved to be and Armagh were worthy winners on the day.”

LadiesFootballTV / YouTube

He added: “I think we took the wrong option at times. They had two extra defenders in there most of the time and we were kicking long balls, looking for the perfect pass. You have to credit Armagh as well, their tackling was excellent and they put us under huge pressure.

“Compared to last week where it was an open free-flowing game, this one was more compact and we found it hard to get space. As a consequence, I don’t think we created any real goal-scoring chance and that was testament to their defending.”

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