Cork senior ladies football team manager Eamon Ryan has admitted that he’s unsure about the availability of some of his top stars ahead of the summer campaign.
And Ryan has also revealed that he even feared relegation before the Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League season began.
Cork have been without a host of key names during the League campaign – including Angela Walsh, Juliet Murphy, Deirdre Reilly and Nollaig Cleary. Goalkeeper Elaine Harte and Ciara O’Sullivan have also been absent as they recover from injury.
Ryan said: “At the moment, we’ve about nine of last year’s team – next Saturday it will be eight as Valerie Mulcahy is away.”
Ryan has used the League to experiment and has been pleasantly surprised by the results achieved as Cork have lost just one of their opening five matches – against table-toppers and champions Monaghan.
But when asked whether or not he will have the likes of Walsh, Reilly, Murphy and Cleary on board when Cork begin the defence of their TG4 Munster and All-Ireland titles, Ryan conceded: “I’d say we’ll have a clearer view in a few weeks’ time. As of now, the view is like the top of a mountain on a foggy day. It isn’t that clear.”
Cork, League runners-up last year, can book their place in the semi-finals of the league with victory in Stradbally against hosts Laois on Saturday afternoon.
But Tom McKittrick’s side have plenty to play for themselves as they remain very much in contention for a top four finish.
Ryan noted: “I believe they (Laois) played well against Monaghan. We’d love to make the top four because we were worried we might be relegated because of all the people missing. But things have turned out a bit better than expected.”
Elsewhere in Division 1 on Saturday, Tyrone meet Donegal in a crucial clash towards the bottom of the table.
Tyrone could badly do with the points on offer in Augher as they look to stave off the threat of relegation.
Meath, meanwhile, looked doomed to Division 2 unless there is a massive turnaround in their last two fixtures.
The pointless Royals host Mayo knowing that they need to win, while also hoping that Tyrone lose, to take it to the last weekend of group matches.
Dublin are currently sitting third in the table and a victory would bring them to within touching distance of the semi-finals. But they will get nothing easy at home to Monaghan, who are already safely through and carrying a 100 per cent record from their previous five games.
In Division 2, Kerry and Galway have progressed to the semi-finals and they will be joined in the last four by the winners of Sunday’s clash between Westmeath and Kildare.
Fermanagh are the nearest challengers to the last four and the Erne County need to beat Galway on their travels to remain in with a shout of making it through to the semi-finals.
Arguably the biggest game of the weekend in Division 2, however, is the meeting of Waterford and Clare in a relegation six-pointer.
A victory for hosts Waterford would condemn the Banner County to Division 3 football next season.