CORK STAR DOIREANN O’Sullivan is backing her club manager, Shane Ronayne, to succeed in his new role with the Waterford senior footballers.
A renowned coach on the ladies football scene, the multiple All-Ireland winning boss is making his first major management move into the men’s game.
Ronayne was appointed Déise boss in January, having stepped down from his post in Tipperary the previous month. With the Premier county, he won four national titles in as many years, while he’s also steered Mourneabbey to back-to-back All-Ireland club crowns.
It was the latter where O’Sullivan worked under Ronayne, the Mitchelstown native taking the reins in 2014 before driving the Clyda outfit to six county and provincial championship titles in-a-row.
Having spoken to Ronayne on the phone earlier yesterday, O’Sullivan reports:
“He’s loving it, really happy to be back. I think the Waterford lads are really lucky to have Shane. He brings a huge professionalism to things.
I remember his first year with Mourneabbey, we were literally blown away with the stuff he was bringing us — and that was at club level, so you can only imagine he’s going to bring it to a whole new level at inter-county.
“He has great people with him. He was praising them this morning. He has the right structures in place. He was saying that for the first couple of weeks, he was keeping in nice and simple, getting the basics right and building that rapport with the players.
“Obviously Shane is at a disadvantage in that he has to try to get to know his management team and players, that takes time as well, and unfortunately, this year, time isn’t on his side.
“It’s a huge task in front of him but he loves that. He loves a challenge, so he’ll fly it.”
Another person she is backing to succeed in a new chapter is former team-mate Saoirse Noonan.
Saoirse Noonan at a home-based Republic of Ireland WNT squad training this week.
Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO
The dual star made the switch from Cork City to Shelbourne ahead of the 2021 Women’s National League [WNL] season, and stepped away from Ephie Fitzgerald’s Rebels set-up to concentrate on soccer — for now.
While ruing her loss, O’Sullivan completely understands Noonan’s decision.
“Absolutely,” she nods. “Look, I think it’s possible to balance camogie and football.
“We have a lot of dual players; Hannah Looney, Libby [Coppinger], Isobel [Sheehan], Maebh Cahalane; but it is different trying to balance soccer and football, given they’re two completely different Associations.
“She was struggling with fixture clashes, she was being dragged in too many directions so she made the decision this year to focus on soccer and give it 100% instead of, I suppose, getting distracted by other things.
Unfortunately, we are really sad to see Saoirse step away this year but she’s 22, so I have no doubt she will be back in a Cork jersey in the years to come.”
It’s all about the current crop at the minute, plenty of continuity otherwise along with young blood as they look to bounce back from December’s All-Ireland final defeat to Dublin.
Normally, club football would be there as a fresh focus after the inter-county finale, so last year was certainly challenging given its absence, along with everything that was happening off the pitch.
“Obviously, that was a hard pill to swallow. We thought we had prepared exceptionally well, had a really good first half and a poor second half, to be honest. Look, Christmas wasn’t that enjoyable. Two years in-a-row, we were celebrating club All-Irelands.”
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Cork star Doireann O’Sullivan was speaking at the GPA Return to Play Media Event.
Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE
Soul-searching and analysis followed, with learnings to be taken going forward as they controlled the controllables through the lay-off.
After a successful return to training, the league kicks off on 23 May and Cork are in Division 1B alongside Dublin, Tipperary, and Waterford. That said, it is ”frustrating” not knowing the LGFA championship dates or format, with LGFA club and county players left in the dark while the GAA released its master fixture list three weeks ago.
But excitement is certainly building for the condensed league, as Cork find their feet.
“We are in transition. I kind of hate saying that but look, we are,” O’Sullivan noted at one point, just days after Niamh Cotter saying that that tag was grating on the team.
“We have lost a lot of players. Even I was watching Reeling In The Years there, the 2012 final, I think there’s two or three of us still on the team. We have a lot of new girls so we’ll be using a lot of players, as well as that league format to get the minutes under the belts.”
Different Backgrounds; One Association – Doireann O’Sullivan, Sarah Dervan, Paul Geaney and Dan Morrissey were taking part in the GPA’s Return to Play event to mark the first season where all senior inter-county players are part of the one player Association.
Different Backgrounds, One Association.
Thanks to Paul Geaney, Sarah Dervan, Doireann O’Sullivan and Dan Morrissey for taking part in the GPA’s Return to Play event to mark the first season where all senior inter-county players are part of the one player association. pic.twitter.com/zjEWlAZpmn
— GPA (@gaelicplayers) April 29, 2021
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