Cork forward Doireann O’Sullivan says she is ready to put knee injury woes behind her as she prepares for another massive battle with Monaghan in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies senior football championship on Saturday.
Cork and Monaghan renew rivalries at St Brendan’s Park in Group 2 of the All-Ireland series (Birr, 3pm, live TG4), in what is a repeat of last year’s qualifier.
Monaghan drew their opener 1-11 to 1-11 against Armagh last weekend, but this is Cork’s first game since their thumping 5-13 to 2-10 victory over Kerry in the Munster final on 23 June.
O’Sullivan scored two points in that victory, her first time playing in a provincial decider in five years.
"It’s hard to get the balance right especially at this time of the year with club and county," the Mourneabbey star said.
"At the start of the week we fill out a calendar just letting management know what we are doing for the week so they can tailor our training. It has got a lot more scientific and professional and maybe that’s why we don’t get as many injuries anymore.
"But this is my seventh year on the panel. And I have had a couple of knee operations and other things. Thankfully I made it to a Munster final.
"In 2015 I got cartilage done, 2016 same again, this year I had another hiccup with it. But I went up to Ray Moran in Santry and because of my age he advised against key-hole surgery again."
Cork won 11 All-Irelands between 2005 and 2016 but last year they were upset by Mayo in the semi-finals. Mayo also defeated Cork by 1-20 to 3-12 in the Lidl National Football League semi-final this year.
But the 23-year-old, who graduated from UCC last year and now teaches in Youghal, knows there is a huge rivalry there with Monaghan. Saturday’s opponents will be a familiar foe.
"We have got to the league semi-final this year. We won Munster. We have two tough tasks ahead of us with Monaghan and Armagh but we are growing in confidence," said O’Sullivan.
"We have had serious battles with Monaghan over the years. My first All-Ireland in 2013, we played Monaghan. Two years we played the Monaghan team (Donaghmoyne) in the All-Ireland club final too so we know them very well.
"We get on very well off the field and the Monaghan girls are lovely on any trips we do or anything. But once you are on the football field it’s a different game entirely.
"Me and (Monaghan captain) Sharon Courtney would know each other quite well. Between club and county, we would mark each other a good bit. She normally plays full back and I play full forward.
"It’s funny you nearly want a change. You are used to how she plays and she knows how I play so it gets a small bit predictable."