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Cork's Doireann O'Sullivan eyes League prize

Updated: Wednesday, 07 May 2014 12:41 | Comments

Doireann O'Sullivan aims to add to medal tally
Doireann O'Sullivan aims to add to medal tally

Teenage Cork star Doireann O’Sullivan already boasts a career CV that is the envy of many.

The 19-year-old Mourneabbey player is a two-time TG4 All-Ireland senior medallist and a Munster senior championship winner from 2012.  

And next Saturday at Parnell Park against Dublin, O’Sullivan is hoping to claim a second Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 1 crown in three seasons.

But the 2014 campaign has been one of transition for Cork, following the retirements of goalkeeper Elaine Harte and ‘puppet-master’ midfielder Juliet Murphy.

O’Sullivan’s abiding memory of last year is from the All-Ireland quarter-final – when Cork staged a staggering comeback from nine points down to win by four against Dublin.

O’Sullivan recalls: “We went in at half-time and we were in an ok place. They (Dublin) came out all guns blazing and we weren’t ready for that at all. Down to Juliet, I think.

“A few of us were panicking on the ball, small things like getting passes wrong or fumbling the solo.

“There was a break in play, one of the Dublin girls went down and she called the six forwards in and spoke to us.

“She’s just an incredible leader on the field. She’s like a puppet-master – she pulls all the strings and someone to look up to when things are going bad.”

Cork have slowly adapted to life without Murphy and Harte to reach a seventh successive Division 1 final, despite losing to Kerry and Monaghan along the way.

And O’Sullivan is “unsure” about the future of another eight-time All-Ireland senior medallist, Nollaig Cleary, who is contemplating her intercounty future.

O’Sullivan revealed: “I think she’s making up her mind after the League.

“She came back I think just before the semi-final of the League last year. She got married over Christmas so I’d say it’s taking her a bit longer this year! Hopefully she’ll be back.”

Harte, Cleary and Murphy were just three of the vastly experienced Cork stars who welcomed O’Sullivan into the fold with open arms.

She explains: “This is my third year. 2012 was my first season. The girls are very humble – they welcomed me in.

"There’s a fierce intensity in training, which is good” - Doireann O’Sullivan 

“I was only 17 and could probably tell that I was nervous. But they were really helpful, gave advice and them passing you the ball in the match is a big thing.

“They obviously trust you as well – that’s important. The last couple of years, there’s a good balance between young and old.”

O’Sullivan adds: “When you lose your one of your midfielders and your goalie, it’s a lot to contend with but everyone in general has pulled up their socks.

“We have four minors on the panel and ten U21s pushing for places. We have 40 on the panel; we’ve had A v B matches and you might as well be playing Kerry or rivals like that. There’s a fierce intensity in training, which is good.”

O’Sullivan’s sisters Ciara and Roisin are also key members of the Cork squad.

Ciara has recovered not once but twice from cruciate knee ligament damage and played in the 2012 decider despite suffering injury in the semi-final victory over Monaghan.

Doireann confirms: “She played the All-Ireland after doing the cruciate – in the gym twice a day with Declan O’Sullivan. She’s good now, injury-free fingers crossed but you’d still be worried about her regardless.”

In the League semi-final victory over Munster rivals Kerry, Ciara operated at centre forward, with Doireann occupying the full-forward position.

The siblings are expected to occupy the same positions against Dublin on Saturday and Doireann has warned that the Sky Blues will not let another big lead slip if they manage to establish one.

She said: “If we go down nine points at the weekend, we won’t get away with that. We have to get a good start. They have some good players like Lindsay Peat and Lyndsey Davey and we’ll have to mark a few of their forwards.”

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