Thursday 23 November 2017

O'Connor keeps feet on ground as Model prepare for Cork


Ronan Flanagan

When a team is just one step away from a final, it is only human nature to begin to dream and take your eye off the ball.

This Saturday in Nowlan Park, there is no time for day-dreaming as Galway take on Kilkenny and reigning All-Ireland champions Wexford lock horns with Cork -- very much the big four in the chase for O'Duffy Cup honours.

"I wouldn't be able to make a call in either of the matches. The level of intensity in Nowlan Park on Saturday from the four teams will be a world away from what has been seen earlier in the season," insists Wexford All Star Claire O'Connor. "Every team in the semi-finals has the ability to win the All-Ireland."

O'Connor has been representing her county with distinction at various levels for 20 years -- making her senior debut in 1999. Then, Wexford finally reached the promised land four years ago -- ending a 28-year wait.

"We had been building for a few years," recalls O'Connor. "In 2007 Stellah Sinnott brought everything together.

"2010 was like that as everyone was so fresh and it all just came together. We had so many regrets from the previous two years, it nearly made it better than 2007."

The holders will take nothing for granted against Cork. Last year was the first time since 2002 that the Rebelettes did not contest an All-Ireland final, so they will be chomping at the bit to knock Wexford off their perch.

"When it comes to the big day Cork always perform. Nobody in Wexford is thinking we are going to have it our own way," says O'Connor.

"As a back, I'm looking at the danger posed by the brilliant Cork forwards and they also have a serious midfield. They are a very attack-minded team."

The Wexford players have been told to watch what they say to the media -- and there is no hint of over-confidence from their corner-back.

"As for ourselves, all I know is that we have been training hard all year and getting good commitment, so if we work hard enough on the day we can do it," she said.

"You have two teams capable of beating each other. There is only ever a score or good defending at the other end that will bring the game our way or their way in turn. We'll just have to wait and see."

Irish Independent

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