Gencar/Manorhamilton players celebrate after their semi final victory over Kiltubrid
A football management gig comes with a lot of tasks, some enjoyable, some onerous, some to be avoided. The pre-match interview is definitely one of those managers like to avoid but for Padhraic Corrigan, you sense he is enjoying every minute of the build-up to the Ladies Senior final.
Joint manager with John Sheridan, Padhraic was one put forward for media duties and it is obvious he is very relaxed about next Sunday, joking about his joint role “It is myself and John Sheridan as joint manager - I think it takes two of us to control all these ladies!”
On a serious note, Padhraic made the point that he and John were only carrying on the work of Shane Devaney: “I can’t wait for the final, I’m really looking forward to it. Myself and John Sheridan are very lucky, Shane Devaney did great work with this team over the last four years.
“I’d say the girls would like to win one for Shane as well as themselves. This is their time is what we’d be telling them and hopefully they are up for it. We can’t wait for it, the girls can’t wait, we have 27 girls out training for this.”
The serious talk comes when the conversation turns to a St Joseph’s team going for a three-in-a-row of Ladies Senior titles next Sunday: “I don’t think we did ourselves justice last year but we’re up against a very good St Joseph’s team going for three in a row, they have a good management structure there.
“I know they saw us against Kiltubrid so they have our cards marked. I was impressed by their physicality against Oughteragh Gaels. Physically they have a bit more than us on Sunday but that is St Joseph’s all round, they are physically strong and they know how to win.”
Glencar/Manor’s Ladies team have made enormous progress over the last few years and many are predicting they will come to dominate ladies football in the county but Padhraic stresses that winning the first title is not simple: “We have a lot of young players and we are a coming team looking to win the title but getting that first one is the key.
“I think this group of girls, if they work to their potential and work to the workrate, I know they can achieve success. We know it will be tight against St Joseph’s, we have to get our match-ups right.”
Having overcome Kiltubrid in what many are terming the game of the year in the semi-final, the neutral observers I was chatting to have Glencar/Manor down as favourites for the final but Padhraic believes that defeating St Joseph’s will be a much harder challenge than taking down Kiltubrid.
“It is harder because St Joseph’s are so strong from midfield on, they have so many scoring options and even in defence, Vanessa Gallogly is very good, she was very good in last year’s final, she is very strong.
“I would say that St Joseph’s are a better balanced team than Kiltubrid, all around the field and with the subs they bring on, they are just balanced and that is why they are county champions. You don’t just survive on our superstar players, you need everyone buying into it and rightly so.”
And the joint manager stresses that his team have to match St Joseph’s intensity: “Absolutely, we’ve won big games in the past but they are a young team and they really put down a marker to match them physically, to match them with football ability and with heart.”
Beating Kiltubrid was a major stepping stone and Padhraic believes it will fuel the confidence of his team: “To win under lights, championship and winning it by a point in a dogfight, it is a great feeling. For Kiltubrid, it must have been a horrible feeling but it was only a stepping stone to where we want to get to and win this championship.”
Unfamiliar with ladies football before this campaign, Padhraic has quickly become a fan of the game: “This is my first year and I wouldn’t have known much about Ladies football but I’ve become a fan of it. It is not as cynical as the boys game, it is a purer form of the game. You are never out of a game in Ladies football.”
As to a verdict, Padhraic displays the confidence of a manager born as he says “The first thing you asked me was would last year come into it and the answer is yes and no.
“You have to learn from your experience or your mistakes but we have different players playing this year and we have different people in different positions so it won’t be the exact same. You have to learn, if you don’t there is something wrong.
“I’d have huge confidence in the group of girls I have, every one of them, the 27 that is on the panel, huge confidence in their ability, huge confidence in the work they have put in, every one of them has done the same amount of work even though some of them were away.
“I’d back my girls all the time against anyone, it is just on the day. Hopefully nerves don’t go against them, the big occasion but if you’re not there you have no chance.”