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Finn Knows Cork Need More 'Physicality' To Make Gains On Dublin

Finn Knows Cork Need More 'Physicality' To Make Gains On Dublin
By PJ Browne Updated

"It's funny," says Orla Finn, "this is my 11th season with Cork. For the first five years, we never went to a gym."

Finn won five All-Irelands in her first five years with the Cork ladies footballers (and another in her sixth). There was no reason to change the formula until other teams found a new recipe book.

In recent years, Cork have added strength and conditioning coach Michelle Dullea to the mix as teams take the game with ever-growing seriousness.

"I think all teams were upping the standards [around 2015]," continues Finn, who is PwC GPA Women's Player of the Month Award in Football for June.

"Before that, we used to be pushing and pulling each other at training, and trying our best to be physical in that way.

"[These days] you need that nutrition, strength and conditioning, pitch sessions, a team doctor, physio, psychologist. These are all things that we wouldn't have had back in 2011, when I started.

"Ladies football is growing at such a pace that if you want to be up with the high standards, you have to be putting in that training."

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Cork footballer Orla Finn with her PwC GPA Women's Player of the Month Award in Football for June in Kinsale GAA Club in Cork. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Those standards are being set by Dublin, the team which has taken over from Cork as the dominating force of ladies football.

Orla Finn on Cork and Dublin rivalry

The Dubs have won the last four All-Ireland finals, beating Cork twice, including by five points in December's decider. Dublin were also victorious in last month's league final against the Rebels, a game in which Finn scored eight points.

"We have to think we are anyway," says Finn when asked if her side are edging closer to their rivals.

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Dublin bring a lot of physicality and fitness to the game. Our physicality is something that we can definitely work on.

We're very fit at the moment, but the game has become a lot more physical in the last few years. It's meant to be a non-contact sport, but it's not really. We need to bring more physicality to our own game, and it is something we'll be working on.

The fast game too. As a forward, I'd love to see more kicking in the game, get the fast ball in. We have some great talent in our full-forward line, some young girls coming in that are well able to take their chances. The kicking game would really suit.

In Cork training, the Kinsale player gets a ribbing from teammates for her love of running borne from an athletics background.

"I'm playing in the wing-forward position now, and there's a lot of running needed there," she says.

"The position suits me. I was doing athletics from when I was seven, and did an awful lot of training in it. It's definitely stood to me in my football career.

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"I did everything, really. I finished up on 400m hurdles. That was the last event but I used to do pentathlon as well - that's long jump, high jump, shot put, hurdles, and 800m.

"At one stage, when I was still involved [in athletics], I ran in Tullamore in a competition. It was a team event in Tullamore. We all did our own event.

"I think it was on a Saturday in 2011, and I had a quarter-final with Cork against Dublin in Birr. I did the athletics competition in the morning and then I drove down and played against Dublin.

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"I can't remember where we came, I was more focused on rushing back down the road and playing the game. Thankfully, we won that game.

"I'll always remember it because it was my first year playing with the seniors. I wouldn't be able to do it now, an athletics competition first and then play a game after. In my youth, I was well able for it."

In her teens, Finn had a choice: pursue athletics more seriously or continue playing football.

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"I'm delighted looking back now that I picked football - the team aspect really suits me," she says.

"Football has made me the person I am today. I've got more confidence from playing football. It's helped me in my teaching career.

"Being part of a team is important. If you're having a bad day, you might go out to the pitch and forget about everything. It's a release from normal life. You always have a friend there."

Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

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