"It's going to be a battle royale between now and September"

August 06, 2018

Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald.
©INPHO/Donall Farmer.

By Daragh Small

Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald believes their reputation precedes them sometimes and it's crucial they don't take Westmeath for granted in the TG4 All-Ireland senior quarter-final.

Cork, who were last champions in 2016, face Westmeath in the final eight at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick today (4.45pm).

Cork topped Group 2 of the qualifiers after their big 1-19 to 1-7 win over beaten Ulster finalists Armagh at Duggan Park in Ballinasloe on 28 July.

And having claimed 11 of the 12 Brendan Martin Cups prior to Dublin's breakthrough success last year, Cork look primed for a semi-final spot this time around.

But Fitzgerald says they cannot afford to underestimate any team, even with a huge meeting with Ulster champions Donegal on the horizon.

"For most games we are favourites anyway but that is historical," said Fitzgerald.

"Every game is a new challenge, you just don't know what's around the corner. We prepare diligently during the week and be ready for the Westmeath challenge.

"Westmeath are our big fish and if we beat them we are playing Donegal.

"It's dog eat dog. Donegal look formidable at times, they got 9-20 against Armagh in the Ulster final. 

"At this level when you play against the top four or five teams it's anybody's game."

After a disappointing 2017 where they Cork did not feature in the Munster final, Fitzgerald's side bounced back this term.

They defeated Tipperary in the provincial semi-final before a comprehensive 5-13 to 2-10 win over Kerry in the Munster decider.

Cork scored seven goals in their win over Monaghan on 21 July and Fitzgerald is confident his players are finding form at the right time.

"We never looked in any serious danger against Armagh. The fluidity of our game wasn't what it normally is. But we got seven points in the first game of the round robin and we got 19 points there," said Fitzgerald. 

"We are delighted to be in the quarter-final. We have a lot of competition and that's good. We have some girls coming back as well, some girls that have been injured coming back into the fold. 

"But we know we have to step it up if we are going to compete at the business end of it. We are happy to qualify. We have topped our group. We are two matches away from where we want to be. 

"It's going to be a battle royale between now and September."

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