Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League preview….
by Jackie Cahill
CORK star Brid Stack is confident that the champions can book their place in the semi-finals of the Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League next Sunday.
Stack, an eight-time All-Ireland senior medallist, admits that Cork are going through a period of transition following the retirements of goalkeeper Elaine Harte and midfielder Juliet Murphy, renowned as one of the finest players in the history of the Ladies game.
But Stack is confident that a new breed of up and coming stars can write their own history following a period of unparalled League, provincial and All-Ireland success.
Ace defender Stack reflected: “So many teams are trying out new players and we have a panel of 30 plus, which is fantastic.
“A lot of girls are getting a look in and that’s fantastic for them and for us.
“This is the time to do it, during the League stages. As it stands, we’re a point ahead of Mayo. They’re playing Monaghan and we’re playing Tyrone.
“The fact that it’s coming down to the last League game to decide if we make the semi-finals or not is testament to the other teams playing a great standard at this time of year. It’s on a very even keel this year.”
Stack added: “You’d always aim to reach the semi-finals but this year, more so than any other year, we’re taking it game by game.
“There are so many new girls in the mix and you really see other teams driving on and giving it full belt.
“Everyone wants to take home some silverware, be it League, provincial or All-Ireland. The League is obviously the first title up for grabs.”
Cork will hope to book their place in the last four by defeating Tyrone in Tattyreagh next Sunday.
And even though the Red Hands have yet to register a victory in Division 1 this year, Stack is taking nothing for granted.
She explained: “The last time we went up there, we found it really difficult to play to form. They took the game to us and we just about got over the line. It’s hard to play away from home and on their turf but we know how important the win is this weekend.”
Cork showed ominous form against Laois last weekend, inflicting a 3-19 to 0-4 defeat on the visitors to Cork IT.
And Stack said: “We went out and said we really needed to put in a performance, especially after losing to Kerry and not playing our best football. But Laois are going through a really tough time. They have a lot of girls away, retired and heading away for the summer. While we were happy with our performance on the day, unfortunately Laois weren’t up to the standards of the last few years. We’ll go to Tyrone with no complacency. We trained well on Wednesday evening and hopefully everybody is ready for the test.”
Elsewhere in Division 1, Mayo host Monaghan in Ballina knowing that they have to win to keep alive their slim hopes of a top four finish.
Kerry host already relegated Donegal at Tralee IT and Dublin have home advantage for a Leinster derby against Laois at Naomh Mearg.
Fixtures – Sunday April 6
Tesco Homegrown Ladies NFL Division 1:
Kerry v Donegal – Tralee IT, 12.00
Tyrone v Cork – Tattyreagh, 12.00
Mayo v Monaghan – Ballina Stephenites, 2.00
Dublin v Laois – Naomh Mearng, 2.00
Tesco Homegrown Ladies NFL Division 2:
Down v Clare – Abbey Grammar School, 2.00
Meath v Fermanagh – TBC, 2.00
Galway v Cavan – Tuam Stadium, 2.00
Tesco Homegrown Ladies NFL Division 3:
Offaly v Longford – Clara, TBC
Leitrim v Tipperary – Ballinamore, 2.00
Waterford v Armagh – TBC, 2.00
Tesco Homegrown Ladies NFL Division 4:
Antrim v Louth – Tir na nￓg, 2.00
Derry v Roscommon – St Treas PS Ballymaguigan, 2.00
Limerick v Wicklow – Tournafulla, 2.00