First off let’s explain what we mean by “Piano Lifter” for anyone not familiar with the term, indeed we weren’t aware of the term until listening to Cork legend Sean Og O’hAilpin describe some of his team mates from his Cork days on our Super 8’s Podcast last year.
Elton John plays sweet music from his piano each night on tour, however for him to get to that point he needs someone to do the unseen work of lifting the piano onstage, someone that wouldn’t be mentioned in the complimentary headlines the next day. Sean Og felt there were a lot of unsung heroes from the Cork glory days and we all know of “Piano Lifters” from club or county.
The start 2019 Lidl Ladies Football league is quickly appearing on the horizon and from our coverage of last years season give you our “Piano Lifters” to watch out for,
Clodagh McManamon, Mayo LGFA | Midfielder: This Newport lady applies her trade with Burrishoole Ladies Football team at club level and stars in midfield for Mayo LGFA on the intercounty stage. Having opted to park her handball career a couple of years back Clodagh has begun making her mark with Mayo on a serious level over the past couple of seasons. Her work rate and never say die attitude in the League final earned her a lot of respect amongst the Sportstalk match day team while forgiving her for some unforce errors. Unfortunate in the latter stages of the championship not to have the services of experienced middle 8 player Fiona McHale to help her along but this season we are predicting Clodagh will really come of age and become an even greater leader for club and county.
Roisin Phelan, Cork LGFA | Defender: Hailing from the Aghada Ladies Football club in East Cork, Roisin was a revelation in last seasons championship after having limited playing time in the national football league due to exams. Roisin, like so many in the ladies’ game can apply her skills to many different sports especially soccer. Primarily lines out with the number 3 on her back is constantly trusted to keep opponents’ big names quiet and lays the foundations for Orla Finn, Libbey Coppinger and Doireann O’Sullivan to play their sweet footballing music. In 2019 Roisin may well be trusted again to play at full back but we would like to see her used further out the field as she continues to develop in one of the countries top defenders.
Nicole Owens, Dublin LGFA | Forward: This is a player with some engine. The St Sylvester’s lady didn’t in many people’s eyes stand out in last seasons All Ireland final having lined out primarily at wing forward during the season. Owen’s to our mind was one of the stars of last seasons championships and if nominees for player of the year were to be chosen by us, Nicole would have being on the shortlist and a shoe in for an All Star. Alas it appears the selection committee for these awards don’t look at too much of the action on match days, as they would have seen this lady cover every blade of grass in Roscommon’s Dr Hyde Park in all of the lead up games to the All-Ireland Final in Croke Park. The 2018 League final she was immense and chipped in with important points including a couple in the All Ireland Final. We are predicting that this star amongst a ray of stars on the Dublin team shines brightest this year.
Grainne Houstan, Donegal LGFA | Forward: Donegal last season got to the All-Ireland semis with a style of play not appreciated amongst the GAA public. The Donegal mantra is to isolate their kick ass forwards inside which means you must be fit and ready to play the Donegal running style game. Grainne has established herself as a player working hard out around the middle 8, quashing opponent attacks while setting up fast attacks of her own, which the inside line can quickly feast on. One thing you need for Grainne’s position is not only fitness but serious guts and determination. After taking time off from ball to travel Grainne will be one of Donegal’s hidden keys if they are to go one step better than last season and reach an All-Ireland final. Jim McGuinness took a couple of years to perfect his game plan and judging by Donegal’s game plan last season adding a more attacking threat might just see them as dark horses for glory this season.
Jenny Rogers, Westmeath LGFA | Defender: Rogers hails from the great Westmeath ladies club Milltown. Milltown Ladies have been one of the leading powerhouses in Westmeath over the past number of years and capped off a fabulous year in 2015 by winning the Intermediate Football All Ireland. Playing at primarily center back for her county Rogers was the backbone to Westmeath’s retention of Division 1 status last season. The midlands county is destined to meet Dublin each year in the Leinster Final as there are just 2 Senior teams in the province. The new structure aids Westmeath as they can now look forward to multiple group games against similar opposition. Jenny Rogers is one of the countries top defenders and her foot passing and movement see her constantly performing at the highest level. Keep an eye out for this lake woman this season as Westmeath look to cause a few upsets.
Sharon Courtney, Monaghan LGFA | Defender
If ever there was a better example of a “Piano Lifter” it’s Monaghan’s rock Sharon Courtney. A player that is driven to work hard in every game hailing from the Donaghmore Ladies GAA club in central Monaghan. Sharon’s workrate and leadership is powerful and although it may appear to go unnoticed due to the lack of coverage of games especially Monaghan’s Courtney’s performances have caught the eye of our Sportstalk team. Courtney was commanding the 2018 Relegation match versus Cavan but for her sin bin which lead to mini comeback from Cavan. The return of players and their retention of Muireann Atkinson will see Monaghan genuine competitors in this years Division 1 where they begin against Westmeath. This is a player we hope receives plenty of coverage this season as the growth of coverage continues.
Orla O’Dwyer, Tipperary | Midfield/Forward
Orla light up the 2018 Camogie and Ladies Football seasons as followers became interested and intrigued with how the Cashel Club woman handled her dual star schedule. A player that clocked up a lot of mileage both on and off the field last year as she traveled the length and breath of the country for her county. O’Dwyer isn’t a consistent scorer but her work rate around the middle is exceptional and with open country in front of her travels from half back line to half forward line in great style through exceptional solo runs. Unfortunately for the Tipperary Ladies Football team they will be in Division 1 of the Football league but for championship will compete at Intermediate level. O’Dwyer and crew were devastated last year having being relegated to Intermediate and will be serious contenders for the Intermediate All Ireland in 2019. We predict that if this dual star tidies up her end product the Tipperary Ladies will have a wonderful summer.
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