Kelleher rests star striker as Cork hopes to Shine
The club are currently preparing for the biggest day in the club’s history on Sunday, as they face UCD Waves in the Continental Tyres FAI Senior Cup Final 2017 at the Aviva Stadium, with kick-off at 12pm.
The club have enjoyed a progressive season in the Continental Tyres Women’s National League as well, having claimed 22 points this season in fifth position. Their form has been helped by the return of striker Shine at the start of the season from Scottish club Glasgow City FC.
Since rejoining her first club, Shine has notched 12 goals this campaign including the opener in the 3-0 win over Wexford Youths in the semi-final. The former Raheny United forward was rested for the 4-1 win over Galway WFC and only played 45 minutes against Youths last weekend, as Kelleher has one eye on the final.
“We had to rest players as we had a trip to Galway on the Thursday so we had to rotate our squad to make sure everybody was fit for the final,” Kelleher said.
“Clare (Shine) didn’t play in Galway just from a rest point of view and again, we gave her 45 minutes. She’s one of the top-scorers in the league this season and a fantastic talent so you’ve got to mind those type of players.”
It has been a difficult route to the final for Cork. Both Peamount United and Wexford Youths are set to face each other on Saturday at Ferrycarrig Park to decide the Women’s National League title, but Cork beat them both on the way to the Aviva.
A tightly-contested 3-2 win over the Peas in the quarter-finals was followed up by an impressive 3-0 win at Wexford Youths in the semi-finals, and Kelleher says it gives his side huge confidence heading into the game.
“We’ve got here the hard way. The Peamount game was a great game at Bishopstown but the best game we played this year was the 3-0 win over Wexford in the semi-final.
“We had total control. It gives us huge confidence going into the final knowing we’ve beat the two best teams in the league.”
They face a UCD Waves side who’ve finished one place above them in the league and have won all three league matches between the two sides this season. The Cork boss has praised the quality of the opposition, and has praised the hard work at Cork ahead of Sunday’s final.
“I think UCD are a superb football side. I’ve been involved with the Women’s National League in the past three seasons and for me, they’re one of the top footballing teams,” Kelleher admitted.
“They’re very organised, they play some excellent attacking football and they’ve got some top, top players in their ranks. We know what they’re about and we know how difficult it will be.
“Reaching the final is huge recognition for the work everyone has put in at the club, the players and the staff, it’s been a huge effort over the last few years. It’s been incredibly hard to get to this stage.”