Revived City ready for Tolka opener
FOLLOWING a delay of just under five months, Cork City captain Maria O’Sullivan is relieved that the Women’s National League finally has an imminent return date.
The Leesiders most recently saw competitive action last October when they suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of league champions Peamount United.
Their 2020 campaign gets underway with an away trip to Shelbourne on August 8 and O’Sullivan is anticipating a tough encounter at Tolka Park.
“The break was good for us, because we took advantage of the time we had off. We worked a lot on our fitness and physicality side of the game. They’re a tough test, but we’re ready for the challenge and we’re just going to take each game as it comes. Try to take as many points as we can,” the Ballincollig woman remarked.
While O’Sullivan will be the youngest skipper in the league at just 19 years of age, she is one of many in the Cork squad to progress from the underage ranks of the club in recent years.
The Republic of Ireland U19 goalkeeper credits City boss Rónán Collins and his coaching staff for the role they’ve played in nurturing these players.
“In the off-season they’ve made contact with us daily. To make sure we were doing what we should be doing. It really stood to us when we came back training.
“A lot of the younger players from the U17s, he [Collins] gives them time to train with us. He focuses on development so that in a couple of years they’ll be ready to step up to the Women’s National League. That will really stand to us.”
Because of the delayed start to the term, a new format has been introduced for the restart of the Women’s National League. Each team will play each other once in Phase One of the campaign, before clubs are split into separate sections for Phase Two.
If the Leesiders are to find themselves amongst the big hitters in the latter half of the season, they will need to come out firing on all cylinders. With this in mind, the continued presence of attacking fulcrum Saoirse Noonan – despite her commitments to the Cork and Nemo Rangers ladies football panels – comes a massive boost to O’Sullivan and her team-mates.
“She does really well to balance the both of them. She puts as much effort into both. It’s great to have her because she’s an incredible athlete and an incredible forward. A lot of the younger players learn from her, because she has so much to teach the young players.
“She’s great to have on the team because of her experience as well. Just her presence there is amazing. She’s an all-round unreal player,” O’Sullivan added.