by Therese O’Callaghan
Gemma O’Connor damaged her knee in Cork’s Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final victory over Galway, and is in a race against time to be fit for the Kilkenny showdown. One of Paudie Murray’s most consistent players, I wish the St. Finbarr’s stalwart well in her recovery. Not alone, is she a key component in this Cork team, but she is also an absolute joy to watch.
Two of the finest centre-backs in the game – Anne Dalton and Gemma O’Connor – will be wearing the number six shirt on Sunday.
Another outstanding centre-back is Wexford’s Mary Leacy who was hugely impressive when the Purple and Gold won three-in-a-row titles between 2010-2012. Mary gives her take on the final:
“Kilkenny have been up and coming for a long time and I feel that winning last year’s All-Ireland would have given them a real inner belief in themselves. Cork know what it takes to win but with Gemma O'Connor in doubt, Cork will really need their experienced players such as Rena Buckley, Orla Cotter, and Ashling Thompson playing at their full best.
“I anticipate Sunday’s final to be a very tactical affair by both managements and I am looking forward to seeing how Cork deal with Anne Dalton’s influence as sweeper. I think Kilkenny forwards have more strength in depth and that the space in Croke Park might cause serious questions for the Cork defence. Therefore, I feel Kilkenny will have the edge and nip it with two to three points to spare.”