Cork got their TG4 All-Ireland SFC campaign off to a winning start with a hard-earned success against Kerry, an outcome that defender Melissa Duggan hopes can set the side up for a decent tilt at winning the big prize next month.

A three-point margin was what separated the sides at Austin Stack Park - an early goal from Saoirse Noonan ultimately proving crucial as Cork got back on the field after an absence of over eight months. 

Duggan, who was named Player of the March, felt there was a bit of nerves early on in Tralee.

"We went in at half-time a point down but we definitely felt there was more in us. We were only 70 to 75%"

"I definitely felt we were nervous at the start because we viewed it as a knockout game," she revealed to RTÉ Sport. 

"Kerry had already played a game (against Cavan) and we hadn't played a competitive match since last March. That showed in the first few minutes.

"Overall, we are delighted with the win. We held out. Our experience showed towards the end. We're ready now to give the championship a good go."

Reflecting more on what was an improved second-half showing against the Kingdom, Duggan added: "We went in at half-time a point down but we definitely felt there was more in us. We were only 70 to 75%. We were determined to put it up to Kerry to show what we had done in training over the last few weeks.

"And now we must continue that improvement. We must recover properly now, eat well, sleep well, so that all 35 to 40 on the panel are right for the Cavan game (Saturday next).

"We do have one eye on the All-Ireland semi-final alright."