By Paul O'Neill

Sarah Rowe is happy to be back playing ladies' football with Mayo after starring in the Republic of Ireland under-19 women's soccer team's memorable campaign at the recent European Championship.

Rowe played her part in Norway as Ireland reached the European semi-finals, where they lost out to eventual champions the Netherlands.

But when she returned home she was soon training again with Mayo and the forward marked her comeback with a stunning display in their defeat of Westmeath in the All-Ireland qualifiers.

She has scarcely had time to catch her breath over the last few weeks, but says that while the European Championship was a special experience for her, she is enjoying lining out for Mayo again.

Rowe said: "It has been a busy time for me lately but, to be honest, I am used to juggling a lot with my football and soccer commitments.

"Looking back on the European Championship, it was terrific to be involved in a side that did so well. We were disappointed not to have done better but the welcome we had on returning to Ireland made us feel like we had won the tournament!

"I would have to say it was the best two weeks of my life because of some of the results we had, the fact we were part of an event that was organised so professionally and we had such a tight bond in the squad.

"At the moment I am involved with Ballina Town and Castlebar Celtic in County Mayo, but it means a lot to be playing football again too.

"While I enjoy both codes, football is the slight favourite for me. I am training with my local club Kilmoremoy, but Mayo is what I am concentrating on most just now."

"While I enjoy both codes, football is the slight favourite for me. I am training with my local club Kilmoremoy, but Mayo is what I am concentrating on most just now" - Sarah Rowe

Mayo's win over Westmeath sent them through to the quarter-finals of the TG4 All-Ireland Championship where they were paired with holders Cork.

And Rowe knows Mayo will need to show a marked improvement on their performance against Westmeath if they are to have a chance of causing an upset when they tackle Cork at O'Connor Park on Saturday.

"After losing to Galway in the Connacht final, we were just happy to bounce back and stay in the championship" she declared.

"However while the result was the important thing, we know we should have won by more than just one point.

"We started well and were in control, doing the simple things right, but then we relaxed too much and complicated our play. Westmeath came back and obviously it was a tight finish.

"When we play Cork we realise that we will have to be on our game for the full 60 minutes if we are to have any chance of coming out on top.

"They have set the standard in the game over the last nine years or so and they have been especially impressive in the current Championship, running up some big scores.

"For us the roles will be reversed from our last tie because going into the Westmeath game we were the favourites but for this one against Cork we are the underdogs.

"In a way it is a bit like Ireland at the European Championship because most people involved in the game did not expect us to do as well as we did.

"It suits Mayo fine being the outsiders and we will be ready to give it our best and try to get the right result."

A victory for Mayo will take them into the last four in the championship for the first time in five years and perhaps prove they are on the up again.

They have had to live in the shadows of teams like Cork in recent years but have not been helped by regular changes of manager.

With Peter Clarke staying in the hot-seat, this season is the first since 2004 that they have had the same boss for two years in succession and Rowe claims that has boosted their cause.

Rowe added: "It has not been easy for Mayo over the last number of years with so many changes in management.

"When you want to be in contention for honours you need continuity in this area but for one reason or another we did not have that. Peter, though, did well in his first season with us and deserved the chance to build on the strides he made.

"All in all I feel we are moving in the right direction but there is still lots of work for us to do.

"It is encouraging that some of the county underage sides have also been doing well this year, so the future looks bright."

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies' Football Senior Championship quarter-finals, Saturday, 16 August:
Armagh v Laois (O'Connor Park, 1615)
Cork v Mayo (O'Connor Park, 1800)