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O'Shea expects challenge from Laois

CORK captain Amy O’Shea is anticipating a massive challenge from Laois in Saturday’s Bord Gáis Energy Ladies National Football League Division 1 final at Parnell Park.

The Leesiders, chasing a fourth successive League title, put their crown on the line against Laois in the first final meeting between the two counties since 1993.

Laois squeezed into fourth place in the Division 1 standings to book their place in the semi-finals and then shocked Monaghan, who had collected seven wins from seven outings in the group stages, to reach the final for the first time since winning it in 2003.

Cork and Laois met at O’Moore Park in March, with the Rebelettes running out 3-7 to 0-12 winners.

And O’Shea reflected: “It’s been a pretty open League and Laois have been doing very well. They certainly put it up to us and hit the target more times than we did in the League stages. Against Monaghan, they worked very hard and picked off their scores. Monaghan would have been favourites going into it and everybody had them down as favourites but Laois seem to like the underdogs status and they’ll certainly come at us.”

O’Shea, named at left corner forward to face Laois, added: “Monaghan won every game (before the semi-finals), winning by two or three points in some games and four or five in others. The difference between winning and losing in ladies football is shaving the post. Monaghan missed a penalty and Laois scored a goal so there’s a six-point turnaround.

“There are ifs, buts and maybes. That’s the way Ladies football is. We suffered the ifs, buts and maybes last year so now we’re hoping to drive on.”

Tyrone halted Cork’s drive for a sixth successive All-Ireland crown at the quarter-final stage in 2010.

The Munster champions are hell-bent on regaining the Brendan Martin Cup but O’Shea believes any one of eight teams could finish the year with the ultimate prize.

She said: “There’s Monaghan, Laois, ourselves, Dublin and Galway and that’s before you even consider Tyrone and Kerry. There could be any number of teams in the final this year. It’s going to be tough but it’s fantastic for the game.

“There was some soul-searching done on our behalf but we decided to drive on and do the best we could. We didn’t have impeccable performances during the League – we lost to Monaghan in Monaghan, tight against Laois and Donegal was touch and go for the first ten or fifteen minutes before we got on top of them at the right time. A lot of work has to be done but we’re going in the right direction and our young players have stood up to the plate.”

Cork finished as leading scorers in the group stages of Division 1 before cracking 7-16 past 2010 Division 2 champions Donegal in the semi-finals.

And O’Shea acknowledged: “Any forward line with the likes of Valerie Mulcahy will have firepower. There are young girls popping up with three, four and five points in games and people are coming in and scoring goals. It’s no longer two or three in the forward line; six or seven forwards can score freely. Deirdre O’Reilly came forward from corner back and scored against Donegal and (wing back) Briege Corkery has scored a few points. 1-15 are more than capable of shooting but I don’t think Hartey (goalkeeper Elaine Harte) will venture that far out!”

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