THE FUTURE IS ORANGE Cora Staunton is pictured in the Great Western Sydney Giants’ colours in Australia last week.
LADIES football legend Cora Staunton landed back from Australia in Mayo last Sunday morning to train with her Carnacon team-mates ahead of their Connacht Ladies club championship final next weekend.
The four-time All-Ireland winner with Mayo became the first international athlete to be drafted to play in the AFLW when she was signed last week by the Greater Western Sydney Giants.
Cora intends to return to Australia once Carnacon’s interest in the club championship ends to begin pre-season training ahead of the AFLW season which kicks off at the end of January.
The league is a seven-game series with the top teams advancing to a Grand Final which will be played at the end of March.
But Staunton, who won her 19th Mayo senior club championship medal recently, said her focus would be on Carnacon once she arrived back on home soil.
“I’ll be back into it straight away,” she explained last week. “I’m back on Sunday morning for club training and then heading to the men’s County Final to support Ballintubber.
“I’ve missed a couple of club sessions alright but I’ve been keeping myself ticking over.
“That’s our main focus now, we’re playing Kilkerrin/Clonberne who are going to be a big challenge. They have been for the last number of years.
“But we’re hoping to have a good run with the club, they’re the ones that have set me up to get me to where I am today so my full focus is with them.”
Staunton, who will be 36 in December, only arrived in Australia last Tuesday but made a big impression on GWSG head coach Alan McConnell and men’s assistant coach Nick Walsh, a former Cavan footballer.
“It’s been hectic but I’m absolutely delighted, I knew it was in the pipeline going over, so I’m delighted to have signed for them,” Staunton explained.
“It’s going to be a big change. I went to the club on Tuesday morning when I arrived over and spent the day there just doing different bits of testing and stuff, and did a few skills sessions.
“It’s a bit different obviously with the football, but a lot of the skills from rugby and [Gaelic] football are transferable over. The biggest change for me obviously is the ball, being an oval ball and learning how to kick.
“There’s great coaches in the club, and they taught me a lot, even in the day that I was here.
“So I’ve no doubt that I’ll pick it up, and I’ll probably do some practicing when I’m home for the next few weeks as well.
“But I’d be confident enough about picking it up. It will be tough, but there’s no pressure on me to go out and be the top performer or anything like that.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be a challenge, but a challenge that I’m going to relish.”
The ten-time All Star, who has scored 59-483 during her 67 senior championship matches for Mayo, lined out in the county’s All-Ireland Final defeat to Dublin at Croke Park last month.
Many observers felt that may have been her last game in a Mayo jersey but the woman herself says that she was ‘not ruling anything in or out at the moment’ in relation to her inter-county future.
Carnacon, who beat Kilkerrin/Clonberne in the 2015 Connacht decider, are bidding to win their 16th provincial title in 20 seasons next weekend.
Connacht Ladies Club FC Final
Carnacon v Kilkerrin/Clonberne
Sunday, October 29
Ballyhaunis at 2pm