Loss of cen­tre-back O’con­nor a mas­sive blow for Rebels

Irish Examiner - Sport - - CAMOGIE -

The cen­tre-backs.

The loss of Cork cen­tre back, Gemma O’con­nor, can­not be over­stated. Her abil­ity to dic­tate the play has been a key weapon in the Rebels’ ar­se­nal over re­cent years, but so, too, have her lead­er­ship and calm un­der pres­sure on the big­gest of days. The in­jury to O’con­nor has meant a re-jig by the Cork man- age­ment team — Eimear O’sul­li­van is se­lected at mid­field, which frees Ash­ling Thomp­son to sit back into O’con­nor’s reg­u­lar role. Thomp­son should slot in there with­out too much dis­rup­tion and will lead by ex­am­ple.

Ann Dal­ton is the Kilkenny num­ber six and is a hugely in­flu­en­tial cog in Ann Downey’s side. She usu­ally plays deep and is an ex­cel­lent reader of the game. Her work-rate is re­lent­less and she is in tremen­dous form again this year. Which­ever side dom­i­nates this vi­tal po­si­tion will go a long way in de­cid­ing the des­ti­na­tion of the O’duffy Cup.

Mid­field

Be­cause of the shuf­fle, there is a new Cork mid­field pair­ing, with O’sul­li­van link­ing up with Libby Cop­pinger. An ex­pe­ri­enced per­former, O’sul­li­van is the holder of four All Ire­land se­nior medals — her first in 2008 — and is an All-star re­cip­i­ent, so is no stranger to the big day. She in for O’con­nor, when she was in­jured in the Gal­way game. She was in­spi­ra­tional in the 2014 fi­nal, when she was awarded the player of the match. Cop­pinger, from the St Colum’s club, was on the Cork in­ter­me­di­ate side that lost to Kilkenny last sea­son (she was in­tro­duced as a sub­sti­tute in the se­nior fi­nal) and has taken the step-up to the higher grade in her stride. So, there is a nice blend of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence in this sec­tor. But, they will need to be at their best, as they are likely to come up against dy­namic sis­ters, Anna (cap­tain) and Meighan Far­rell, who have shown tremen­dous form in the cham­pi­ons re­turn to the All-ire­land fi­nal. Who­ever comes out on top, here, will have a ma­jor say in de­ter­min­ing the out­come. Orla Cot­ter v Denise Gaule Two for­wards who are on the top of their game. Orla Cot­ter re­mains a for­mi­da­ble player for the Rebels, while 2016 player of the year, Denise Gaule, is criti­came cal for the Black and Am­ber. Cot­ter has, so of­ten, been the heart­beat of this team. She has the abil­ity to shoot from dis­tance and struck 1-3 in the semi-fi­nal. Like­wise, 2016 player of the year, Denise Gaule, heads up the Kilkenny at­tack. The scorer of 1-2 in their penul­ti­mate round, she pro­duces the goods time and again and is a strong and pow­er­ful player. Both women are ca­pa­ble of driv­ing their coun­ties to suc­cess.

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