Rebel reckons Dubs can deliver
THE National League got the big blast-off in Croke Park. Bord Gáis Energy are once again the kind sponsors.
Ger Cunningham is their Sports Sponsorship Manager. He'll have a busy 2012. He'll be alongside Jimmy Barry Murphy in the Cork hurlers dugout.
His native Cork are the Ladies Division 1 champions. The Jackies are now back on the top floor. They won't be far away from the ceiling. That's the verdict of Cork's decorated Mairead Kelly.
Mairead's boots were crafted from gold. She has vast experience, and she has become a fan of Dublin.
Cork will visit the capital on Sunday week, February 19th. That's a game that could rumble. Cork and the Dubs have got to know each other well. Last year, Cork edged past Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
"Dublin will bounce back from that," says Mairead. "They have such a talented squad."
And the Leesider firmly believes that strength in depth is so important these days.
"Just look back at that All-Ireland quarter-final in Birr last August. Our subs made a massive difference. They were probably the winning of the game," reflects Mairead.
"Luckily, we got one over on the Dubs that day, but they were such worthy All-Ireland champions. They played brilliantly on the day of the final against Tyrone.
"Dublin deserved an All-Ireland title. There's no doubt about that. And they will be back. Last year's match was such a great game between us. It reminded me so much of the 2009 All-Ireland final between the counties.
"It was super to see such a quality spectacle going out live on TG4.
"That can only benefit the sport. And hopefully ladies football can sustain those high standards. I think it can. The fitness and skill levels are up there with the men. We train just as hard."
And Mairead adds that you just can't buy that bit of Cork cuteness -- even down in the Queen's favourite butter market.
They showed all their guile and experience against the Dubs in the final of 2009, and again last season. "We were smart on the ball. We didn't give it away. We kept kicking our points rather than going for goals."
An age-old story that Munster's Wonder-Women have perfected.
And a lesson that's never too late for the learning.