‘We won’t know until we’ve beaten them’ – Cork captain feels gap closing on Dublin as league final looms

CORK CAPTAIN MARTINA O’Brien says she feels her side is closing in on four-in-a-row All-Ireland winners Dublin, as the sides prepare to face off in the Division 1 final.

The sides have already met in this year’s league campaign, serving up a thrilling spectacle which Dublin edged by 3-15 to 4-11. The decider on Saturday evening will see the old rivals battle it out for silverware once again, with Cork effectively going in as reigning champions from 2019 after last year’s final could not be played due to the pandemic.

Dublin are chasing just their second top tier crown in the league this weekend, but it is their recent record in the championship which puts them at the summit of Ladies football.

They defeated Cork in the 2018 and 2020 All-Ireland finals, while also getting the better of Ephie Fitzgerald’s side in the 2019 semi-final. But O’Brien is confident that the gap is closing on the Leinster outfit.

“We’d like to think it is. We didn’t expect that game to be such a spectacle, it was end-to-end stuff. We hope it’s closing. We’re trying to win things, win leagues and championships. Dublin are standing in everyone’s way.

“We feel like we’ve progressed over the last couple of years and are hoping to bridge that gap this year but we won’t know if we’ve done it until we’ve beaten them… no team will know that until they’ve beaten Dublin.

“Since then we’ve done more training and worked on things. We just hope we can bring that extra little bit on Saturday that might get us over the line.”

Referring back to the era of Cork’s dominance which yielded 11 All-Ireland crowns in 12 years, O’Brien adds:

“We have lost to Dublin the last couple of years and it is obviously going to be one of those things where you are like, just to beat them could be a good thing. We have beaten them in the league. We have beaten them along the way, just not in the important matches.

“But look, you could flip it the other way, Dublin have experienced a couple of years ago against Cork what we are experiencing now. It is roles reversed. We are getting a bit used of that kind of treatment now.

“We are always thinking about ourselves and who are we playing next, it is never a looking forward thing to we are going to be playing this crowd in the All-Ireland final. We are just playing to the next game.”

O’Brien also explained that Cork are unlikely to have the services of key forward Doireann O’Sullivan for the game against Dublin as she is still recovering from a knee injury.

Remarking on the kind of game that might unfold on Saturday, O’Brien suspects it won’t be a repeat of the high-scoring battle they played out last month. 

“I can’t imagine it will be as loose as it was the last day – we’ll both want to have tightened up – and won’t want to be leaking goals again.

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“It will be very measured. We’re looking to play a bit more…be a bit safer..but look we won’t know until Saturday.

“Hopefully it’s a cracker again, with spectators there now the next day it could make a great evening.

“We’re setting our sights on winning every game we play, it doesn’t matter if it’s Dublin or Mayo or Armagh. Saturday is a final. We want to take the cup home.”

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