O'Shea insists fired-up Laois a real threat to Rebelettes
CORK captain Amy O'Shea has warned of the massive threat posed by Laois in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies SFC semi-final in Cashel today.
Leinster champions Laois, chasing a first final appearance since 2001, defeated last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists Tyrone in an epic quarter-final tie that went to extra-time in Birr.
That victory marked out the O'Moore County as serious contenders for the Brendan Martin Cup, but Cork -- five-in-a-row winners from 2005 to 2009 -- are hot favourites to regain the title after defeating last year's winners Dublin last weekend.
But O'Shea is not underestimating the challenge of Laois, who pushed Cork all the way in the Bord Gais Energy National League Division 1 final last May.
With 49 minutes on the watch at Parnell Park, Laois led by a point before an unanswered 1-5 from the Leesiders secured a fourth successive league crown.
"Laois will bring hunger and determination. They'll feel they got such a start on us in the league final and they'll come out with nothing to lose," O'Shea said. "They overcame Tyrone in what was a superb game and they're going to say, right, Cork have just a week to come down and get back up again. That can work to their advantage."
But Cork, despite the seven-day turnaround, will start as justifiable favourites after coming from six points down to beat Dublin in a memorable quarter-final.
"We relied on our bench to work so hard when they came on. Everybody questioned our hunger and determination after last year and at six points down, any other team might have thrown their hat at it and given up," O'Shea said.
"But every girl from one to 15, and the five that came on, worked so hard. There were celebrations afterwards but people mainly felt physically, emotionally and mentally drained."
Laois boss Joe Higgins has reported a clean bill of health as his team looks to claim another massive scalp. "We're as well prepared as we can be. We'll respect them a lot but we won't fear them at the same time," he said.
"Cork showed their steel the last day. They were down by six but showed their experience and guile to come back and win it.
"But we'll have learned a good bit from the league final. It was a great experience for our younger girls and we hope they can carry it through to Saturday. We stayed with them for 50 minutes, but Cork are very good at pulling away in the last 15 or 20 minutes of games."
The Cork v Laois clash is the second of a double bill at Cashel's Leahy Park, with Cavan and Leitrim contesting an All-Ireland intermediate semi-final at 4.15.